5 steps to Speed Data-ing

Speed Data‐ing, a concept created by Open Data Nation is helping to expand the use of open data in organizations, clarify doubts about publishing data publicly and build or strengthen a community of open data users.  Born out of Speed‐Dating as a way to match single people, Speed Data-ing provides a structured environment for those who publish and consume data to exchange knowledge about the open data they have and would like to see put to good use.

At Speed Data-ing, participants are matched in pairs to have brief conversations about open data. After a set period of open‐ended discussion time,  an emcee alerts participants that it is time to transition to a new partner, participants shift into new pairings, and repeat until the conclusion of the event.

Using this methodology, Open Data Nation is helping the Inter-American Development Bank organize its first Speed Data-ing on September 16 in order to promote the internal use of Numbers for Development, its newly launched open data portal.


Here are the 5 key steps to carrying out a Speed Data-ing event (and a one-page overview):


Step 1. Identify your open data challenges and goals

Start the planning process by identifying why you want to host a Speed Data-ing event. Are employees unclear why they should publish their datasets or unsure of the potential for using open data once it’s available? Do you want to collect feedback from the public regarding which datasets to prioritize for publication next?

Speed Data‐ing can address your open data challenges to:

  • Clarify doubts about publishing data publicly
  • Explain the process and challenges of opening data
  • Assess demand for datasets that are not yet public
  • Prioritize data for publication
  • Get to know those who use open data for other purposes
  • Get feedback on data that is published
  • Develop a better understanding of what is possible
  • Expand access to librarians and other open data resources
  • Build a community of practice for open data users

Once your open data challenges have been identified, you are ready to match them with goals and measurable outcomes. If you’re hoping to clarify the process of publishing data, for example, consider setting a goal to increase interactions between data users, communicators, and librarians. Then, measure how effective these conversations were in getting new datasets shared.


Step 2. Determine your target audience

Identifying a target audience is a key piece of the “how-to” Speed Data-ing puzzle. The right mix of participants will depend on the goals of your event, but you’ll most likely want some combination of open data publishers, such as librarians, as well as data users and communicators. Limiting attendance at your event to 20 to 30 people will help facilitate one-on-one knowledge sharing and relationship building.


Step 3. Develop a communications strategy

First determine what tactics you will use to effectively reach your target audience of potential participants. If you chose to pursue multiple tactics such as telephone, email, flyers, infographics, intranet sites, and social media, you may want to include messaging do’s and dont’s that set the tone for how you will communicate with potential and then confirmed participants.

During the event, organizers and attendees should be encouraged to live-tweet to share information about their experiences. Examples and scheduled tweets can be prepared in advance to promote the conversation in social media.

Following the event, you should consider contacting participants to thank them and ask for feedback via an online questionnaire to gauge interest, collect contact information, and evaluate your success.


Step 4. Plan ahead and host the event

Picking a physical space and layout are integral to the success of your event. Seats should be organized in pairs, ideally re-creating a coffee house setting. The room should be large enough to allow many conversations to occur simultaneously without getting too loud.

Once it is finally time to host your Speed Data-ing event, a designated emcee should kick off the event, being sure to explain the format goals. Conversation prompting materials tailored to the goals for the event are useful to keep conversations flowing and also document participant experiences.


Step 5. Analyze your impact and identify next steps

A Speed Data-ing event is an opportunity to start a conversation, but it doesn’t have to end there. Evaluating the results of a post-event questionnaire (Step 3) will gauge how successful you were at reaching your goals and interest in future events. Do participants better understand the potential for sharing data? Would they like to participate in a community of practice or in other activities?

Whether or not you reached your target goals for the event, consider how you can continue sharing knowledge and growing the use of your open data by organizing more events and/or bringing together working groups or committees of interested participants.

Open Data at the Inter-American Development Bank

– Click here  to use the IDB’s open data portal, “Numbers for Development”, and access over 1,700 multi-sectoral indicators from 26 countries in the region compiled by the Bank over more than 50 years.

– Click here to access all of the blog posts on “Numbers for Development” and learn more ways that the Bank is making use of their open data portal.

Photo credit: Ryan Resella