Today, in the presence of some 60 local government representatives, saw the kick-off of a project I’m proud of to see launched. Nine municipalities in the Province North-Holland are embarking with us on a 9 month program to connect locally relevant policy themes with new stakeholders and publishing open data. Open data as a policy intervention to provide citizens and organisations with new affordances and new pathways for action.

PNH Slimmer has started
The beautiful ‘open data manifesto’ the municipalities and province signed today. Made by my colleague Frank (laser cutter to the rescue!) and our artist in residence Ate Hes (hand painted data visualizations, and the overall concept)

The connection to local policy themes is intended as a source of intrinsic motivation for data holders. Economic potential or transparency impacts often see their benefits impact elsewhere, not with the data holder, and may not suffice to get the open data ball rolling pro-actively.
The Province acts as an umbrella for the effort, providing a broader context and allowing local governments to build on each other.

In the past 2 months we talked to 16 local governments to find local themes, and see whether the time needed can be allocated internally. Nine municipalities signed up today, a few more may follow in the coming days.

PNH Slimmer has started
A quick and stimulating game to come up with applications for a combination of 3 random data sets

We will be working with these municipalities both as a group, as well as ‘on the ground’ to help make it happen in practice. Working on raising awareness, spotting opportunities. Working on creating a steady process for regular data publishing. Finding and mobilizing people to start using the data.

Because just publishing data is not a result to us. Getting to the point where the data is being used to strengthen local communities is the result we are after.

It is an expedition, not a prescribed route. So also to me and my The Green Land colleagues it is an adventure with unknown outcomes. But it is an adventure we are looking forward to take on, as we’re confident there are plenty of building blocks and experiences already available to make this happen.