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Making public datasets more accessible


Adopta.Agency is a civic movement designed around an open blueprint process that enables anyone to improve an open government dataset and move it one step forward by producing JSON or two steps forward by launching an open API.

A person using a catapult to launch a boulder inscribed with the acronym API.

The challenge

Following the implementation of the White House’s Open Data Policy, federal agencies produced thousands of open datasets, many of which needed cleaning-up and translation into a JSON format for reuse in other applications. Given the enormity of this undertaking, public stakeholders needed an innovative model for scaling the evolution of the government’s open datasets.

The solution

To address this challenge, Kin Lane established Adopta.Agency, a civic movement based upon a civic-crowdsourcing model for evolving the government’s open data. Crowdsourcing is facilitated via an open blueprint process that runs on GitHub and provides step-by-step guidance to anyone who wants to “adopt” and improve an open government dataset.

As part of this work, Kin obtained grant funding from the Knight Foundation to create a prototype that focused on identifying, improving, and making datasets more accessible and shareable. The prototype was applied to five separate open government datasets that resulted in five blueprint patterns, all of which are available on GitHub for reuse in other open government dataset adoptions.

The results

  • Obtained grant funding from the Knight Foundation
  • Developed the Adopta.Agency blueprint process
  • Applied the blueprint to five federal datasets, including U.S. Federal Budget, Veterans Affairs Open Data Portal, Department of Education Tech Data, My Brother’s Keeper, and
  • Developed five reusable blueprint patterns from those adoptions

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