Should we assess OpenData innovation and impacts?

Yesterday, I was at a talk titled: “OpenData, basis for a new political technologies ?” at la Cantine Numérique Rennaise [fr], a place about the digital age located in Rennes. During the debate, I asked how we could assess the impacts of OpenData without some sort of measuring instruments. This is question the EU asked itself in a recent report.

Xavier Crouan, who has been digital innovative and Informations director in Rennes for the past few years and has communicated extensively on OpenData, made a comment that I felt was a misunderstanding of my own question. He roughly stated that it felt typically French to request for tools, indicators whenever risks and innovation were taken. He believed this was saddening to hear French engineers being so grounded and felt innovation should not have to justify itself.

Honestly that wasn’t what I was leading at. The discussion at that point of the debate was about how OpenData would eventually make a difference in people’s life politically as much as economically. In that context, it seemed sensible to ask how we could measure the impacts of OpenData so that we could tweak, tune, improve its usage.

Now in regards to innovation itself, I believe you usually need simple indicators to gauge whether or not you’re walking onto a fruitful path.

For instance, Rennes has held a contest for building applications on data it has recently opened. Xavier Crouan has indicated that 2000 people had voted. One might consider it is an indicator whether or not the contest was publicly a success and if not, how to tune it if there’s another contest next year.

Shooting in different directions in hope one path will lead to strong innovation is shortsighted in my book. You need to define a few criteria that will assess how each direction fares. This is what OpenData promotes too: improving efficiency in reusing of public sector data.

Innovation is not incompatible with retrospective.

2 thoughts on “Should we assess OpenData innovation and impacts?

  1. Xavier CROUAN

    Your comments give me the opportunity to be more precise on that specific subject opendata indicators.
    Yes we need indicators to measure opendata program impacts. But when the process is at the earliest stage, measurement could killed new program which is just starting. With indicators, you will have never create Internet, you will have never create facebook, twitter and so on.

    I do believe that the innovation process needs more to be linked with the design approach (more sensitive and intuitive) rather than an industrial process with rational indicators.

    And indicators reflects the present time and not the future time. It doesn’t say where to go. It says where you are. Some have to know that point but it doesn’t give you the direction for innovation in a so changing world.

    As the society is moving faster dans faster, as the digital uses are moving faster and faster, we need a process which has the be the closest of those moves.

    This is the reason why, I made that comment yesterday. Sorry if you perceived it as rough. It wasn’t the meaning. Maybe too enthousiast and too much passion !

    1. Sylvain Hellegouarch Post author

      Hi Xavier,

      You make a good point in regards to different perspective and that explains why we misunderstood each other I believe. I agree with you that indicators shouldn’t slow down innovation so finding the appropriate ones to assess where we go is probably better in that respect.

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