8. Make your Data Available
The next step is to publish your data. This section will take you through the steps you should consider when making your data available to others.
Choose where to publish
You can choose to use your existing website to host your open data. This may be a time and cost efficient option when you have limited datasets available. Your website team will already be familiar with making other data files available for download.
Depending on the layout of your site and the search facilities available, it may be difficult for outsiders to find your open data. This limits the effectiveness and reach of your open data. Thought would have to be given to whether the layout of your website would need to be altered to enhance the discoverability of your open data. You could have some really interesting datasets available, but if people cannot find them, then they cannot use them.
Data Catalogues or Portals
It is becoming the de-facto standard for open data portals or open data catalogues to host an entire organisation's open data. These are essentially websites where the host can upload and update datasets and the public can search for and download datasets.
If you go down this route, your options will be:
- build your own platform in-house
- buy an existing platform
- use an existing open source platform
Where possible you should resist the urge to invest money and resources to build a system from scratch if there is a suitable existing model. For example, CKAN is the most popular open source platform in the UK and has been used successfully by many organisations. It is the UK Government's chosen platform for data.gov.uk.
DKAN is a drupal based open source system that was based on CKAN's key features. Both platforms allow for the easy publication and visualisation of data.
Regardless of the route chosen it is essential that your platform:
- allows authorised users to make uploads and updates
- supports your chosen metadata standard
- supports the uploading and downloading of your data in bulk
- supports common open formats
- allows the public to search metadata and download datasets
When choosing your option other factors you should consider are:
- Total cost - not just initial cost of building or buying system, but on going costs such as hosting support, maintenance and update costs
- Satisfaction with features - in addition to the essentials your organisation may value other tools such as data visualisation tool and API compatibility
- Sustainability of option - is there enough support? Is there enough in-house resource or will you need to contract out? Will you need to invest in training?
Examples of Open Data Portals
This list is a very small snapshot of the portals available!
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