How to run an Open Data Challenge

Since 2013 Nesta has been running a series of open data challenges aimed at finding and supporting teams to develop products or services using open data for social good.  Now they’ve released a report on what they’ve learned so far.

The report offers insight into the winners of each of the challenges as well as guidance on how to run your own challenges. It ends with the question “Are you ready for an Open Data Challenge?” and suggests the following considerations.

  • Identify the strategic aim that you want to focus on in the centre
  • Identify the types of datasets which are relevant to this aim, both within your organisation and outside (for instance, held by other organisations)
  • Identify the groups of people who currently use this data or could be attracted this data. Think about people within your organisation and outside
  • Highlight any constraints with the use of this data. For instance, does it look like you have enough open data for people to use in products that target your aims?


A theme that keeps coming back as I read the report was the importance of identifying the need and then looking for the data .It’s a message that open data providers could benefit from listening to.