Vol 8, No 2 (2012)

Special Issue: Community Informatics and Open Government Data

In many countries across the world, discussions, policies and developments are actively emerging around open access to government data. It is believed that opening up government data to citizens is critical for enforcing transparency and accountability within the government. Open data is also seen as holding the potential to bring about greater citizens' participation, empowering citizens to ask questions of their governments via not only the data that is made openly available but also through the interpretations that different stakeholders make of the open data. Besides advocacy for open data on grounds of democracy, it is also argued that opening government data can have significant economic potential, generating new industries and innovations.

Some open government data initiatives are being led by governments. Others are taking a grassroots approach, collecting and curating government data in reusable digital formats which can be used by specific communities at the grassroots and/or developing macro datasets that can be used/received/applied in different ways in different local/grassroots contexts. INGOs, NGOs and various civil society and community-based organizations are also getting involved with open data activities, from sharing data they hold regarding aid flows, health, education, crime, land records, demographics, etc, to actively sourcing public data through freedom of information and right to information acts.

The publishing of open data on the Internet can make it part of a global eco-system of data, and efforts are underway in technology, advocacy and policy-making communities to develop standards, approaches and tools for linking and analysing these new open data resources. At the same time, there are questions surrounding the very notion of 'openness', primarily whether openness and open data have negative repercussions for particular groups of citizens in certain social, geographic, political, demographic, cultural and other grassroots contexts. In sum then, what we find in society today is not only various practices relating to open data, but also an active shift in paradigms about access and use of information and data, and notions of "openness" and" information/data". These emerging/renewed paradigms are also configuring/reconfiguring understandings and practices of "community" and "citizenship". Therefore, in this issue we seek to engage with the critical questions that are emerging from these paradigm shifts as well as the related policy initiatives, programmatic action and field experiences.

Table of Contents


The Promises and Perils of Open Government Data (OGD) HTML *
Tim G. Davies, Zainab Ashraf Bawa
Two Worlds of Open Government Data: Getting the Lowdown on Public Toilets in Chennai and Other Matters HTML
Michael Gurstein


The Rhetoric of Transparency and its Reality: Transparent Territories, Opaque Power and Empowerment HTML
Bhuvaneswari Raman
“This is what modern deregulation looks like” : co-optation and contestation in the shaping of the UK’s Open Government Data Initiative HTML
Jo Bates
Data Template For District Economic Planning HTML
Sharadini Rath
Guidelines for Designing Deliberative Digital Habitats: Learning from e-Participation for Open Data Initiatives HTML
Fiorella De Cindio
Unintended Behavioural Consequences of Publishing Performance Data: Is More Always Better? HTML
Simon McGinnes, Kasturi Muthu Elandy
Open Government Data and the Right to Information: Opportunities and Obstacles HTML
Katleen Janssen

Notes from the field

Mapping the Tso Kar basin in Ladakh HTML
Shashank Srinivasan
Collecting data in Chennai City and the limits of openness HTML
Nithya V Raman
Apps For Amsterdam HTML
Tom Demeyer
Open Data - what the citizens really want HTML
Wolfgang Both
Trustworthy Records and Open Data HTML
Anne Catherine Thurston
Exploring the politics of Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) in the context of contemporary South Africa; how are open policies implemented in practice? HTML
Asne Kvale Handlykken

Points of View

Some Observations on the Practice of “Open Data” As Opposed to Its Promise HTML
Roland J. Cole

The Journal of Community Informatics. ISSN: 1712-4441