Increasing Community Mobilization in New Datasets Request (PAR0003)
Action Plan: Paris, France Action Plan
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Secrétariat Général
Support Institution(s): SG \ Jean-Philippe CLEMENT \ Responsable de la démarche data L’école des données (Version française de The School of data, projet de l’Open Knowledge Foundation http://ecoledesdonnees.org/) et CNAM (référentiel des métiers de la donnée et des données de référence),
Policy AreasE-Government, Open Data, Public Participation, Subnational
PROBLEM COVERED BY THE COMMITMENT: This engagement is about making sure that the research, extraction and publishing of datasets match the needs of future reusers in regard to transparency and creation of new services. The publishing of new datasets usually requires important research and conviction of the services in charge of the data. Knowing that the dataset is awaited et will be used by a reuser allows to focus energy on useful objectives; PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Allow reusers to obtain the publishing of datasets adapted to their needs in terms of transparency and creation of new services.; DESCRIPTION OF THE COMMITMENT: Create a trimestrial event to mobilize the community to focus its needs towards the data needed. Every trimester, a meetup et an online mobilization will take place. Those events will be shared to the community through our social media and meetup group.; RELEVANCE: This engagement will allow the participation of the community in the choosing of future datasets in regard to transparency and creation of new services. It allows the local government to better understand the needs of future reusers and focus its efforts transparently.; AMBITION: Every trimester the local government will open new datasets via a clear process of referral and codecision of opening priorities.; STEPS IN IMPLEMENTATION: 1. CALL FOR CONTRIBUTI ON THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKS 2. SORTING OF PROPOSALS (PRESENT ) AND POSSIBLE RELEVANCE SURVEY 3. RESEARCH AND 1st PUBLICATION 4. NOTE ON PUBLICATION AND IMPROVEMEN T 1. DÉBUT DU TRIMESTRE 2. DÉBUT SEMAINE 3 3. DÉBUT SEMAINE 5 4. DÉBUT SEMAINE 10 1. FIN SEMAINE 2 2. FIN SEMAINE 4 3. FIN SEMAINE 9 4. FIN SEMAINE 12
IRM End of Term Status Summary
3. Increasing community mobilization in new dataset requests
This engagement is about making sure that the research, extraction and publishing of datasets match the needs of future reusers in regard to transparency and creation of new services. The publishing of new datasets usually requires important research and conviction of the services in charge of the data. Knowing that the dataset is awaited et will be used by a reuser allows to focus energy on useful objectives.
Primary objective: Allow reusers to obtain the publishing of datasets adapted to their needs in terms of transparency and creation of new services
To meet this objective: Create a trimestrial event to mobilize the community to focus its needs towards the data needed. Every trimester, a meetup et an online mobilization will take place. Those events will be shared to the community through our social media and meetup group.
1. Call for contribution through social networks
2. Sorting of proposals (present) and possible relevance survey
3. Research and first publication
4. Note on publication and improvement
Disclaimer: To ensure the independence of the assessment, this commitment was reviewed with the support of Timothée Gidion due to Samuel Goeta’s affiliation to the Open Government Foundation, an organization involved in the development of this commitment.
Overall Objective & Relevance
Since 2011, the city of Paris has published data through its open data programme. In 2016, the French Digital Act (loi pour une République numérique) mandated local authorities to open their datasets. The French Digital Act can be found at: https://www.economie.gouv.fr/republique-numerique According to the action plan, supply and demand of open data does not match. Supply is limited by the civil servant's capacity to convert information into open data and, therefore, the City of Paris commits to engage with users and meet the needs of the demand, ultimately enhancing the efficiency of the demand-use-impact value chain for open data. From the point of view of the user, some datasets are still missing or lack temporal or spatial granularity. For example, in 2016, a petition led by the transportation startup Citymapper asked the Paris Transportation Agency (RATP) to open real time information on the location of metro and buses. In order to get the information, the startup had to gather support from 18,000 citizens “ La RATP ouvre (enfin) ses données « temps réel »”
This commitment proposes to create a quarterly meetup to mobilize the community and its requests for data. According to the action plan, two meetups will occur every trimester, one in-person and one online, to enable participants to select future datasets to be released, and ensure the city government takes their requests into account. Various channels such as the “Open Innovation Paris” Meetup and social networks will be used to organize and mediate these meetings and gather participant requests for open datasets.
This commitment is relevant to the value of access to information, considering it proposes a new method to release government-held data in higher demand. Specifically, it seeks to ensure that published data are relevant to the interests of its users, and that the government publishes data upon request from the users. As explained in the action plan, the government considers that these datasets should meet the needs of re-users for transparency and the creation of new services. Additionally, it is relevant to civic participation, considering it proposes to improve the information being published through active engagement of data users to identify the public’s priorities.
Specificity and Potential Impact
The specificity of this commitment is coded as medium. The first two milestones in the commitment (the call for contributions through social networks and for the setup of quarterly meetings) could be considered objectively verifiable. However, as written, they do not specify how the government plans to carry-out the activities nor how they will manage, process and decide upon the publication of datasets after receiving requests by citizens or CSOs.
If fully implemented as written, this commitment could enhance the efficiency of publication of datasets, meeting the needs of users by tailoring the supply. Additionally, if implemented fully, it could allow citizens to quickly get datasets in fields where data was missing. Besides, having a clarity about citizen’s demands could help open data project managers in their requests, as they could benefit from the support of the public in their requests of datasets. However, the commitment is limited in scope because it does not explain how public input will be considered, whether the selection of requests will be made public, or how the survey will be outlined. Moreover, the IRM researcher expresses reservations about the scale of the commitment. Although it calls for the setup of a trimestral quarterly event, it does not specifically establish whether it will be a permanent mechanism beyond the period of the action plan. Additionally, this commitment might add redundancy to the existing freedom of information (loi CADA) legal context, which already allows citizens to request access to any public dataset. Because of these reasons, this commitment is considered to have a moderate potential impact.
The first milestone—the call for contribution through social networks—was partly completed since only two calls were announced, through Twitter on 19 April https://twitter.com/opendataParis/status/854621726109569024 and 11 October 2017 https://twitter.com/opendataParis/status/918050814043869185 , and through an article on Paris’ website https://www.paris.fr/actualites/paris-data-les-appels-a-contribution-sont-ouverts-4665 . Also, unlike what is written in the action plan, the City of Paris did not make a call for contributions through the Meetup Open Innovation Paris, nor through an in-person meetup. The relevant official for this commitment explained that, based on discussions with current users of the Paris data portal, it would not have been relevant to organize in-person meetups since it was simpler to express suggestions directly online. Awa Ndiyae, (Open Innovation and Project Manager), e-mail correspondence with the IRM researcher, 24 November 2017.
The second milestone was withdrawn: the government did not carry out the sorting of proposals and possible relevance survey due to the lack of contributions received. Indeed, over almost a one-year period, the City of Paris received a total of 14 proposals (three of which were not directly related to open data), in addition to four claims that were not at all linked with open data issues (such as complaints regarding neighbors’ behaviors). The government provided evidence of this to the IRM researcher, who verified the information. Nevertheless, the government states that they reoriented people to other platforms when their proposals did not deal with topics within the competencies of the City of Paris.
The third milestone about research and first publication was completed. The government carried out an internal assessment regarding the possibility of releasing datasets requested by users. According to the official in charge of the commitment, the City of Paris replied personally to all inquirers by giving them an expected date of publication or explanations when the release of a certain dataset was not possible. However, one of the 14 inquirers whom the IRM researchers contacted stated that he was not aware of the publication of the dataset he requested because the City of Paris did not follow up on his request.
The fourth milestone was delayed to the first trimester of 2018. Originally the note on publication and improvement was supposed to be published every semester but due to the low number of requests, the City of Paris decided to write only one note covering all of the dataset requests and to publish it after the full year of implementation.
Early results: did it open government?
Access to Information: Marginal
Civic Participation: Marginal
This commitment aimed to ensure that datasets published on the open data platform matched the real needs of re-users by optimizing the internal efforts made by City of Paris’ civil servants to release new datasets. The potential impact was expected to be moderate as the commitment proposed enhancing both access to information by giving citizens the opportunity to express their needs in terms of public data and civic participation by including data users in the process of decision making.
However, the early results are limited in scope. As it relates to access to information, the government updated datasets in response to the public requests, but did not publish any new datasets. In fact, most of the datasets requested by the 14 petitioners remained in the process of release, according to government information. The IRM researcher received the list of datasets requested, along with the government responses, and was able to verify the state of the requests by consulting the data available on the Paris open data portal. It is also important to point out that the list of changes requested by citizens—with the corresponding government response—is not available online. Still, the government did update publicly available data in response to citizen requests. For this reason, the IRM considers that there was a marginal improvement in the area of access to information.
In terms of civic participation, the government did not carry out extensive outreach to involve the public in requesting particular datasets. As explained in the Status section above, the outreach consisted of two calls announced via twitter, and an article on the government’s website, which led to a total of 14 requests submitted through the online form and Twitter in the first ten months. Among them, eleven were really asking for new datasets and 3 of the remaining relevant proposals dealt with the same dataset: school canteen menu - which finally appears to be out of scope of City of Paris competencies This lack of integration of civil society is confirmed by members of School of Data Four of them - regularly in contact with City of Paris officials - were reached by email and one interviewed by the IRM researcher. , an NGO that is mentioned as a stakeholder in the action plan, but which was not informed of this crowdsourced initiative and did not know it was mentioned in the commitment. Given the lack of substantive involvement of civil society in the decision-making process around the release of priority datasets (i.e. the public was only involved in the first step of the process in making proposals, but was not involved in determining the new datasets to be released), the IRM considers that there was only a marginal improvement in civic participation.
One noticeable result is that most of the public requests (12 out of 14) came shortly after the two calls for contribution on social media. It shows the relevance of communication for such a crowdsourced initiative that needs visibility to be successful. As a result, the IRM researchers recommend highlighting calls for contributions more frequently on social media and, if possible, diversifying the channels used (not only Twitter). Besides, the City of Paris could benefit from hosting in-person meetings or workshops at which re-users could express their needs to a civil servant in charge of open data who could explain to them whether some requests are out of scope, feasible or already in progress. These in-person meetings and workshops could increase the number of proposals and improve their overall relevance.
Another recommendation is to improve the transparency and the communication of the internal process of releasing datasets. For instance, the City of Paris could publish an updated dashboard on the Paris Data platform that displays all preexisting requests, with a status report for each. It would allow inquirers to be aware of current level of process and to submit only new proposals. This dashboard could be completed through meetings at which open data users could be involved in the decision-making process of releasing datasets by, for example, prioritizing requests, establishing the relevant spatial or geographical granularity of datasets or explain to public officials how they would use the requested data if released. Ultimately, the City of Paris could envisage releasing part of the dataset of submitted requests on the Paris Data platform with the type of dataset, date of submission, status report, and official answers.
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