How do I identify datasets to publish on the Open Data Portal?

Finding out what data your agency collects, maintains or holds – even if it is historical data – is an excellent first step towards identifying datasets to publish on the open data portal,  Below are some activities to help get you started.

Review the data already posted on your agency's website

Data you have already made publicly accessible must be published on, so reviewing data you have already posted on your website is a logical first step.  Look at Microsoft Excel files or public facing applications, which allow visitors to search for records.  The data may not necessarily be accessible in bulk, or available through machine-readable mechanisms, but can serve as a good starting point.

Tip: Google search bar can facilitate finding data files on your website by entering the URL for your website and file type (e.g. filetype:xls).

Review your published reports

Published reports are often populated with data which is compiled or aggregated from internal data systems.  For example, a public report may indicate that an agency has closed 100 projects in the last month.  The internal data system, which maintains information for each project, will likely have additional details that can be made public, such as, the type of project, its location, etc.

Talk to your public information officer

You should talk to your public information officer to find out what information is frequently requested by citizens or other agencies.

Review trend and statistical analyzes your agency performed

These analyzes often use data from various sources, and are typically associated with issues or problems your agency/institution deems important.  Your constituency may also find this information of value.

Review reports your agency provided to federal agencies or the State Legislature

These reports (and their underlying data sources) can help identify data which can also be provided to the public.  In addition, meeting these reporting requirements (particularly statutory ones) might be accomplished simply by making the dataset(s) available on

Explore Published Data

Look at data already published by other state agencies on our open data portal.  You can explore the Open Data Network to see what others are publishing in different states, counties and cities.  Doing so may give you ideas for your own agency.  The U.S. Government's open data portal,, is another source for ideas.

Create an Inventory

As you are reviewing data that your agency or institution collects, maintains or holds, you should document any data that would help explain your mission/operations, detail key results achieved or issues impacting your agency, and/or show progress on strategic initiatives.  The Data Inventory-Priority Matrix Worksheet provides a tool to help you document your data into an inventory.

Program Area
Open Data, Data Identification, Data Inventory

Printed from the Iowa Department of Management website on March 21, 2018 at 4:03am.