Something That Grandma Can Teach Us About Open Data

No one can beat Grandma’s delicious baking. So what’s the wise lesson she can teach us all? Well, her secret is relatively simple and it applies not just to making cakes but also to optimizing Open Data (defined as government data that is deliberately shared in a machine-readable format for free reuse by others).

Grandma always follows a single recipe in the same way every time. And that’s how it should be with Open Data. For unbeatable outcomes, governments should follow a single tried-and-proven method. No need to add a bit here, or miss out a bit there; use all the ingredients and mix everything in the right way as you move confidently from the first step to the very last.

Engage More


  1. Engage more

Develop a strategy to deploy Open Data in your entity, and make and maintain an Open Data master plan. Prioritize information quality and consistency, learn from your experiences, and react to user feedback.

Now start reusing Open Data from other agencies in your analytical environment. For every new data stream in the back office, check whether it can be replaced by using or creating an Open Data stream. Automate the way you handle data (the ETL process) as much as possible, and regularly update your data.

  1. Stimulate innovation

Engage with communities of interest to use your Open Data—or understand why they won’t. Think ahead about applications using Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor data.

  1. Educate more

Educate your internal personnel on how to use Open Data for improving citizen services. Give information sessions about how to publish and use Open Data sets. Repeat these education steps frequently.

  1. Steer and correct

Trigger communities to use your data, and give them ideas. Help build community or themed platforms, and continue to use standards. Become demand driven.

Turning professional

Of course, Grandma is a strictly amateur baker and so a single method is all she requires. Once any government has gained confidence and is ready to reach the broadest possible stakeholder group, it should behave more like a professional cook. Here are my top tips for turning professional:

  • Learn and continuously improve your skills, based on your experience
  • Keep it simple and tempting (less is almost always more)
  • Let go of what people do not order
  • Add new variations to your most popular menus
  • And, once in a while, try something completely new

The above is just a taste. To satisfy a more substantial appetite, please download the white paper: Open government data: Learn why it will change your digital life forever


Yves Vanderbeken

Author: Yves Vanderbeken

Yves Vanderbeken is DXC Technology’s chief technologist and lead enterprise architect for the Flemish government and local governments (Flanders). Since 2011, Vanderbeken has been a core team member of the Flemish government’s Open Data team. He defined the technical strategy for setting up the Open Data platform and extracting, transforming, and publishing information in a consistent manner. He is the co-author of the Open Data Handbook published by the Flemish Government in February 2014. Vanderbeken coaches and advises various departments on their Open Data Master Plan and how to disclose data from their source systems to the Open Data platform, ensuring data quality and consistency across data sets.