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Inform the management

Open data to inform the management of local government

For local public management, all decisions are based on available information. The number of publicly available sources are vast, but there may be differences in the data or numbers that, in principle, should be the same. This may be due to time differences, statistical sample sizes, definitions of populations or other factors.

To have consistent data should be a primary objective, but it is not simple to achieve if data and statistics are not standardised by a centralised unit or trusted competence.

In many situations, we can see that data and statistics are used in a selection and form that suits a purpose, rather than providing an objective view. This can be a problem since the data may vary over time and what can be supporting one point of view at one time may, due to a different focus of almost the same data, be supportive of different views. This has been a major problem in using data for monitoring development and changes over time. There has also been political and administrative frustration since the standardisation of data and statistics has not been set.

In a project now running as part of the Opening Up project, Kristiansand will focus on getting a set of data to be used in indicators and for analysis, maintained and updated over time. This will be an opportunity to gather open external data and internally produced data (also open) to inform local government in a precise and consistent manner, while helping to build trust between the administration and politicians.

Another issue with data is that politicians are frequently questioned by journalists, special interest groups and different lobbyists regarding data they have obtained that is not necessarily open. The more data is available and ready at hand, the better the politicians (and administration) will be at handling matters like these.

To be able to have open data, open sources and open processes in decision-making, planning and ad hoc situations will increase transparency in local government and this will lead to improved trust between the population and local government.

Some examples of how open data can be used to inform the management of local government in partner countries and municipalities are described in the rest of this document.