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The state of open data: reflecting on its role for sustainable development

Releasing freely accessible, standardized, and easily readable data — open data — can increase transparency and accountability for governments, build new businesses and services for citizens, and increase participation in addressing key development challenges. The launch of government open data portals in the U.S. and U.K. in 2009 spearheaded a global open data movement, and almost ten years later, openness has been embraced by world leaders, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the G20 Anti-Corruption Data Principles. Open data commitments are now commonplace among development actors and governments.

Despite this progress, no comprehensive stock-taking document exists to help stakeholders assess the state of open data around the world. In view of both new and persistent challenges, there is an urgent need to take stock of the progress among communities and better systematize an evidence-based approach for strategic open data initiatives.

This project will produce a flagship publication to serve as a core reference and as a stimulus for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers. It will build on OD4D (Open Data for Development) measurement tools that already examine both supply and demand for open data, and research that supports a growing number of communities across regions and sectors. Given its significant global network, IDRC’s OD4D initiative is uniquely positioned to identify the challenges and opportunities for the advancement of regional and international open data networks and communities that will in turn drive positive change in the daily lives of citizens. It will strengthen alignment and improve communication, collaboration, and shared learning on work undertaken across different open data communities. Finally, it will support global program planning for the International Open Data Conference in 2018 in Argentina.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
18 months
IDRC Officer
Fernando Perini
Total Funding
CA$ 439,293.00
Networked Economies
Networked Economies
Open Data for Development
Institution Country
Project Leader
Stephen Walker
Open North Inc. / Nord Ouvert Inc.



State of Open Data : final technical report