How to find 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.

This guide helps you uncover new ways to find existing open standards.

Why use existing open standards?

Open standards are useful tools, however, creating a successful open standard is both time and resource intensive.

Activities include:

  • developing the standard

  • producing documentation

  • coordinating stakeholders

  • engaging with the community

  • managing change effectively

Consider using an existing open standard where possible. This may mean using an existing standard in its current form, adapting or extending it to meet your needs.

Ways to find open standards

According to our research, ‘User experiences of open standards for data’, people who know about open standards tend to find existing open standards through both formal and informal networks.

You can find existing open standards through:

  • formal standards bodies

  • conferences

  • standards teams or working groups

  • websites, blogs or social media

  • open source projects or repositories like Github

  • public procurement policies

Open standards tend to have dedicated websites to help potential adopters find standards using search engines.

For example, Open Referral for community resources, the Open Contracting Data Standard for disclosing public procurement and the Humanitarian Exchange Standard for humanitarian crises, all of which have dedicated websites.

Some open standards are listed by the governments and public bodies who support them, for example the UK government list of approved open standards and the U.S. Data Federation. Vendors involved in public procurement may also check government policies on public procurement to identify supported standards. As a standards owner or standards developer, it’s useful to consider gaining official recognition of your open standard to support adoption.

Finding open standards then working out if they are right for you can be time consuming.

Resources like directories and case studies have been developed to make the research process easier. The Open data standards directory and the Civic open data standards by Azavea are both useful resources that help you search for and assess open standards.

More resources are listed in our guide ‘Tools to find open standards’.

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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