UBC Theses and Dissertations
Open data portals in northern New England states Paige, Bonnie E.
As the United States transitions from the Obama administration’s engagement with open government data to the Trump administration’s more closed information strategies, the future support for federal open government data is uncertain. An alternative target for open data initiatives is state-level open government data portals. This study provides preliminary information on state level open data, illustrating challenges faced by small, rural states in supporting an open data portal. The research investigates the current condition of state open data portals: whether their current form and the laws supporting them are sufficient to support their intended use. This study also explores whether the effects of the national political climate can be seen on state portals. This research uses a case study approach, focusing on the northern New England states: Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The case studies use four main methods of investigation: content analysis to determine the goals of the portal, consideration of the policies and context influencing the portal based on the Open Data Policy Framework, inventorying of the data based on the Open Data Barometer, and a review of saved copies of the portals using the Internet Archive. Based on these methods, we found that these portals fall short of supporting their stated goals. Problems with ambiguous licensing, unclear information organization, unclear project ownership, lack of support for data users, and minimal advertisement of the portal’s existence may have contributed to low citizen engagement with the portals. Portal data is vulnerable as none of the states currently have laws that ensure data will be open and proactively provided, although Vermont is considering such legislation. National politics may have an influence on state open data, as Maine’s portalceased updates two days before the federal election. There is potential for those in the field of library and information science to contribute to state level portals through the provision of support for the knowledge organization and information literacy aspects of the portal that are currently lacking. This study also suggests that evaluative tools more specifically attuned to the state open data context would considerably strengthen the analysis of future research.
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