This is super-wonky stuff, but we thought it worth a brief blog post to give a quick shout-out to the Open NY open data team at the State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS).
When it comes to open data, the devil is definitely in the details and Open NY’s new Open NY Data Set Submission Guide is probably the best set of rules we’ve seen for government agencies publishing their data for public use. Open data has three kinds of basic problems: first, the data the public wants is not available; second, the data that is published is hard to find; third, published data is hard to use because of how it is formatted, or described.
The Open NY Guide offers clear, specific, practical advice on how to present data to the public. The Guide builds on New York State’s basic philosophy of putting data quality before quantity. In comparison, New York City picked quantity over quality to start with, and now the City and open data users are working to improve the quality of vast amounts of data that were dumped into the open data portal without much vetting.
The Guide includes best practices and several pages of requirements for metadata, including data dictionaries that tell the public what the data they are looking at is.
One of our favorite parts of the Guide is the detailed examples of how to format a data set. Each requirement is clearly and succinctly presented, and is also accompanied by examples of what do to and what not to do: