Activities: Design research: research development, interview and respondent sampling design; user persona development, workshop design, facilitation

Team: Adam Parker, Marielle Velander

Partners: Mayor's Office of New York City Open Data Team

Project content and design
owned by Reboot.

How can a strategic understanding of current and potential users of city data—and their role in the data ecosystem—help New York City realize its promise of Open Data for All?

The Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI) engaged Reboot to develop a research-based strategy for the public-facing side of this initiative. We took an applied ethnography approach to develop a deep understanding of a wide spectrum of people in the city’s open data ecosystem—from the civic tech data whiz advocating for more metadata to the busy bystander investigating a local civic issue.

Through semi-structured interviews and direct observation, we surfaced a wealth of stories that made clear the meaning and potential uses of open data. We then turned these stories into a set of user personas, as well as an “Impact Cycle” framework, as tools for MOTI to integrate the findings throughout its work. The analysis and recommendations are now helping MOTI to engage and support targeted users through technical improvements, strategic communications, and investments—a systems approach to increasing the impact of open data as part of a wider ecosystem.