Knowledge transfer and skills development does not necessarily need to be embedded in formal training or capacity-building programs. Very often, peer-to-peer learning or informal mechanisms can increase the capacity of data partners or data users in the context of data sharing initiatives. Additionally, adopting an institutionalized approach to training doesn’t exclude other informal mechanisms of transferring knowledge. On the contrary, these two approaches complement each other.

It emerged from the landscape analysis that, even in the context of successful data sharing initiatives, every partner did not possess the entire range of skills needed to establish and maintain effective data sharing at the beginning of the initiative. Rather, partners often had complementary skills that, taken together, led to sustained and successful data sharing. 

While a variety of skills across partners is a good starting point for data sharing, in the long term, an initiative benefits by increasing the capacity of partners through sharing their unique knowledge and strengths (i.e., technical skills, legal understanding) with each other.

Informal skills development and knowledge transfer mechanisms can take a plethora of different forms, ranging from peer learning networks to knowledge hubs and collaborative workspaces like GitHub and resource-sharing platforms.

Knowledge cafes

Since its inception, the Hong Kong Data Trust 1.0 has organized periodic cafes to facilitate knowledge exchange between data partners and explore topics of interest in an informal setting. These forums are open to the data sharing initiative stakeholder community (made up of more than 500 organizations from the local transport sector) and to the public. The knowledge cafes often include presentations from and conversations with external experts.

For instance, in 2021, Data Trust 1.0 hosted a knowledge cafe on the topic of “data on walking” and invited experts from the working group on International Walking Data Standards and from the Walk21 Network to share insights about international developments to increase collection of, access to, and use of walking data. 

These events benefit the stakeholder community and provide an opportunity to exchange knowledge and information between partners in a more casual way and outside the context of formal governance structures. This contributes to capacity building and enhances trust between partners.

Knowledge repositories

The Microsoft Open Data Campaign’s primary aims were to facilitate data collaborations and create common resources to support data sharing across organizations. From the outset, the initiative was keen to develop a knowledge repository with tools and resources to benefit data sharing more generally. 

The initiative joined with the Open Data Institute and The GovLab at New York University to develop resources, courses, and networks to help organizations and leaders navigate the transition to more open and collaborative data approaches. The initiative has worked with its knowledge partners to develop resources to provide data stewardship guidance for public sector and private sector actors. This effort includes the creation of a newData Stewardship Academy; anOpen Cities project to build community and share insights among cities using data to drive change; and aPeer Learning Network, which will act as a community of practice and learning.