Social impacts of open standards

Open standards for data are reusable agreements that make it easier for people and organisations to publish, access, share and use better quality data.

Open standards for data are rarely purely technical products. Successful standards engage with many stakeholders, from the people and organisations directly involved in developing the open standards to those who are impacted by them.

Standards encourage multi-stakeholder collaboration

Open standards for data might seem like a purely technical exercise. But developing a standard that is useful to the community and used by stakeholders needs multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Stakeholders can include the owner of the standard, the sponsor funding the standard, the developers of the standard and others who work together to create the standard. Stakeholders also include the people and organisations who implement the standard, use any data or models published to the standard, provide third-party support, develop new businesses based on the standard, and many more.

With facilitation and guidance, multi-stakeholder collaboration improves open standards at every stage, from the first idea to scoping and starting the standard’s development, through the development stage to launch and adoption, regular reviews and updates, and finally the standard being withdrawn, retired or abandoned.

Outside the development cycle, multi-stakeholder collaboration connects people and organisations working in the sector. Data publishers are interested in who else publishes data using standards so they can understand how issues were overcome and improve their processes. Data users are interested in connecting with other data users with similar goals or issues.

Case study: data surgeries

360Giving, the standard for data about grant-making in the UK, regularly convenes workshops for data publishers, philanthropists and grant-making organisations to meet, discuss problems and share learning. It doubles as an opportunity to gain new publishers when interested organisations learn about their peers’ experiences.

Standards provide a focus for shared vision

Open standards for data can have social impact when people and organisations with a common problem or unmet need work together to reach an agreement about producing or using better-quality data.

To work together to produce a successful open standard, the people and organisations involved need a shared vision of the open standard including a common understanding of the problem they are trying to solve and agreement on how they will solve it.

An open standard for data can provide the focus for shared vision by helping to:

  • coordinate activities to understand the problem or unmet need

  • agree on the current ecosystem, data assets, concepts and language in use

  • agree on the data and models needed to solve the problem or meet the need

  • pool resources to work towards clearly defined goals for the standard, leading to mutually reinforcing activities

  • form connections across sectors to support the standard’s goals, which can help to build trust, peer learning and peer support

  • produce and reuse tools that strengthen a data infrastructure, including supporting data publishers, providing data users with insight, and making it easier for developers to create tools and services

Case study: Open Banking

Open Banking, the standard for creating, sharing and using banking data, is developed and maintained collaboratively and transparently. It provides a focus for the shared vision of improving people’s banking experience and making the banking industry more innovative and efficient. Through the Open Banking Working Group, people and organisations from finance, technology, trade associations and public bodies are working together to shape the standards for the future of banking.

How to use this guide

There are a number of ways for you to learn more about the creation, development and adoption of open standards for data.

About this guide

This guidebook helps people and organisations create, develop and adopt open standards for data. It supports a variety of users, including policy leads, domain experts and technologists.

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