ODIN: Open Data Inventory
The Open Data Inventory (ODIN) assesses the coverage and openness of official statistics to help identify gaps, promote open data policies, improve access, and encourage dialogue between national statistical offices (NSOs) and data users. ODIN 2016 has added 48 countries, including most high-income OECD countries. Two-year comparisons are available for 122 countries. Scores can be compared across topics and countries. Explore the results on the ODIN website.
The Open Data Inventory (ODIN) is a new approach to assessing the coverage and accessibility of the datasets most pertinent to managing and monitoring the social, economic, and environmental development of a country. ODIN assesses data provided by national statistical offices (NSOs) through their principal websites for topical coverage and openness. The results are tabulated to allow comparisons across different datasets within a country and between countries. ODIN’s unique methodology has so far been applied to over 125 countries. The ODIN annual report covers this year’s highlights. Full details and results are accessible through the interactive ODIN online system. This article describes and compares the ODIN methodology with other assessments of data openness and statistical capacity. To focus on ODIN’s methodology and its application, the identities of specific countries have been suppressed here. Anticipated future refinements include a selectable weighting system and a process for crowd sourcing updates to the inventory.
Open Data and Official Statistics
National statistics offices (NSOs) are the apex of the official statistical systems of their countries. They have the principal responsibility for organizing data collection, setting standards and implementing statistical methods, and publishing and disseminating the results. Where other ministries or branches of government may have responsibility for producing statistics on specific topics – for example the education ministry typically compiles statistics from its administrative records, and in many countries the central bank produces the national accounts as well as financial statistics – the NSO often acts as the central clearing house, bringing together the work of other statistical offices. Only a few countries – the United States is a prominent example – have no central statistical office. In these cases an office of the executive branch typically acts to coordinate the production and dissemination of official statistics. As the custodians of valuable statistics produced at considerable public expense, NSOs or their functional equivalents have a special obligation to maximize their public benefit.
In recent years, many countries have signed commitments (e.g. OGP, IATI) to open data and open government practices. International organizations, such as the World Bank have also embraced the open data movement. Despite these commitments, many governments have not fully realized the potential of providing open access to the full range of data produced and maintained by their national statistical systems. External assessments of government data sources have focused on government budgets or on data with immediate commercial applications such as transportation timetables, map files, and even crime statistics. Often overlooked are the rich datasets of social, economic, and environmental indicators under the purview of the national statistical office or its allied agencies. Furthermore many NSOs seem to have been dilatory in joining the open data movement, despite their absolute and comparative advantage in managing large datasets. Because of their singular responsibility for official statistics, NSOs should be leaders in the open data movement. If there is going to be a data revolution in developing countries, it should be led by NSOs.
Structure of the Open Data Inventory
The Open Data Inventory is designed to evaluate the coverage and openness of data published on NSO websites. While some countries have more than 100 offices and agencies that produce official government statistics, we only consider data that can be found on the NSO website or for which the NSO website provides a direct link. Currently, the most accessible data for many countries are available only on the websites and in the databanks of international organizations. This should not be the case. Governments and their statistical offices are the source of much of the data that appear in international databases and should provide open and timely access to these data.
Traditionally NSOs have disseminated data through yearbooks, abstracts, and paper publications. However, with the rapidly expanding growth of the Internet in every part of the world, all but six countries have established websites for their NSOs. By examining the content of NSO websites, we are able to observe what is available to a typical user of NSO data without placing an administrative burden on government agencies by asking them to respond to questionnaires or other interrogatives.
The Open Data Inventory focuses on what we call “macrodata.” By this we mean indicators that have been aggregated above the unit record level. Microdata — survey responses and administrative records — are the ultimate source for most macrodata. If proper privacy measures are put in place, microdata should also be released by governments as open data. However macrodata are the final products of the national statistical system that are used to monitor development trends and guide public and private decision making. The breadth of topics covered in the official statistics provided by NSOs and their adherence to standards for open access are therefore relevant measures of the functioning of national statistical systems.
For more information on methods see ODIN Methodology.