Problem: Municipal data governed by a dizzying assortment of standards, released in a Babel of formats.

Solution: An international open standards directory that will guide researchers on the proper format for releasing their data.

[See it here.]

Andrew Nicklin, director of data practices at the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx), tells us more in this report from Government Technology Magazine:

“That deficit of information about government open data standards is what the directory seeks to remedy. The nature of municipal data is nuanced and diverse, and the format in which it is released often varies depending on subject matter. In other words, a format that works well for public safety data is not necessarily the same that works for info about building permits, transit or budgets. Not having a coordinated and agreed-upon resource to identify the best standards for these different types of info, Nicklin said, creates problems.

“One such problem is that it can be time-consuming and challenging for city government data workers to research and identify ideal formats for data. Another is that the lack of info leads to discord between different jurisdictions, meaning one city might format a data set about economic development in an entirely different way than another, making collaboration and comparisons problematic.”

Nicklin explains further:

“What the directory does is provide a list of standards that are in use within municipal governments, as well as an evaluation based on how frequent that use is, whether the format is machine-readable, and whether users have to pay to license it, among other factors.

“The directory currently contains 60 standards, some of which are in Spanish, and those involved with the project say they hope to expand their efforts to include more languages. There is also a crowdsourcing component to the directory, in that users are encouraged to make additions and updates.”