Rinse & Repeat

Once an open data portal is live, hosting data and increasing the transparency of public service delivery, there remains still additional work to start generating a return on your investment in open data.

Luckily, cities do not need to start from scratch. It is possible to take the innovations that other cities have piloted and adapt a civic innovation to local conditions. The most notable example of a replicated project, Open Data Nation’s FIVAR solution to improve the productivity and effectiveness of restaurant inspections, demonstrates that open data can create new value to cities and help to make publishing open data worth the cost.

Being second to launch has benefits:

First, replication decreases the risk of failure. 
Knowing the approximate costs and relative benefits upfront adds certainty that an investment is worthwhile. Chicago created a forecasting model to predict which restaurants were likely to fail. Their first-of-its-kind results helped to identify 25% more violations, 7 days sooner than business as usual. When Open Data Nation worked with Montgomery County, MD to adapt Chicago's initial innovation, we generated nearly identical results -- FIVAR identified 27% more violations, 5 days sooner.

Second, replication reduces the time from launch to implementation.
Starting with an example sets the course to avoid wasteful spending and delays. In Chicago, it took over a year to organize, design, and implement a solution. With Chicago’s model in hand, Open Data Nation could replicate the solution in less than 6 months.

By replicating successful processes across cities, city governments and data users can build a body of knowledge around data-driven innovations. Chicago’s successes has paved the way for other cities to undertake similar work. The algorithm worked the same way in different places. By continuing to replicate, cities can reap the benefits of this iterative process.

Photo credit: peapod labs