“Open access movements” have advanced worldwide for more than a decade. These include open data, open government, open science, and open publishing. Open Access movements have received wide recognition from countries seeking to promote transparency, accountability, and collaboration for the common good. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic effectively strengthened the public’s demand for sharing research and government data because of all the benefits citizens expect from opening and sharing this data. Unfortunately the real value of the open data that is currently available has not fully been exploited because the utilization has been limited. Many open datasets are still “sleeping” in the “towers” of open data portals.
In their 2022 book called “The Development of Open Government Data: Connecting Supply and Demand Through Portals”, the authors Di Wang, Deborah Richards, Ayse Aysin Bilgin, and Chuanfu Chen investigate reasons for open government data (OGD) under-utilization from the perspective of the broader open data ecosystem. The book looks at data collecting, publishing, and curation on the supply side, and at data needs, exploring, and consuming on the demand side. The authors compared the supply and demand sides of OGD using factors such as the observability of the data, as well as its contents, quality, and services. The authors found a mismatch between the supply and demand sides, which has led to limited knowledge of and utilization of the data already available. In addition to an empirical analysis of OGD and its portals, the authors designed an experiment to observe and collect data about citizens’ behaviors during their use of OGD. A machine learning method was applied to the experimental data in order to find features influencing OGD utilization by citizens. With the C5.0 algorithm, the authors built a model to predict citizens’ ability to “awaken” the OGD on the portal. The model revealed that citizens’ actual data utilization depended greatly on the success of their interactions with OGD portals and the portal’s compatibility.
This study revealed possible ways for OGD portals to help citizens make more use of available data, including identifying user types, increased portal visibility, enhancing user-portal interaction, and generally reinforcing the usability of OGD's elements. The authors hope that the book’s theoretical and practical results will contribute to more usable and dynamic OGD portals, and to a more inclusive and interactive OGD ecosystem.