This Open Data Guide was prepared to expand and contribute to the transparency policy of the State of São Paulo. Contained here is information about the benefits of an open data policy, its challenges and technical characteristics, and a series of recommendations based on international standards and successful experiences around the world in order to make the opening of databases an inspiring and beneficial process.
This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive resource, or purely technical, or an end in itself. It was developed to be housed on the Web and uses web references. Much of the information contained in the following sections can, and should, be supplemented by browsing through the reference links and complementary readings. The information gathered here seeks to take into consideration in the best possible way the complex ecosystem of Public Administration, with its challenges and differences, whether in the size of the teams or in the state of infrastructure in government agencies.
This is a guide that aims to allow technicians, public employees, managers and executives to find out about a movement that is taking root in democracies around the world and is becoming increasingly popular in Brazil. Opening databases presents itself as a point of no return in the context of more transparent governments and fairer societies. It is only a small part of this movement, which also includes "classic" resources for transparency, such as the Brazilian Information Act, as well as relatively new areas such as social participation and control.
An open database policy needs to have short-, medium-, and long-term narratives: Where are we? Where do we want to go? Who will directly benefit from open data? Citizens? Journalists? Public employees? Companies? Scientists? Infomediaries? How are they reached? These are some of the questions that need clear, objective answers within the organization and planning of any effort to open data.
Governments around the world are already seeing good results from opening their databases. One of the most emblematic examples is the British government. Because of open data, it was discovered that several IT departments in public administration were buying the same consulting services from the same company. By analyzing the data, administration realized it could save six million pounds by decreasing the number of contracted consulting hours. This is equivalent to the entire financial resources required to fund the transparency program of the British government. Opening up the data also led to the emergence of a number of companies and services. Some of these cases are included in this guide.
Examples such as these, which represent the best efforts of open data, are waiting to be discovered in São Paulo and Brazil.