Getting Started for Data Creators

Welcome to the City of Virginia Beach Open Data toolkit, your resource for working with and understanding data published by the City of Virginia Beach at data.vbgov.com. The Toolkit provides a wealth of guidance, how to guides, and examples for both publishers and users of data.


Data Creators 

Data creators are the first link in the data life cycle. You’re responsible for the creation, maintenance, and proper management of government data. You act as a custodian for your department’s data and work closely with the data publishers in your department. Your responsibilities are to ensure that data is released safely and with all appropriate supporting material to enable people to understand and use it appropriately. In some departments, data creators and data publishers may be the same individual.


Your Responsibilities  

The responsibilities of a data creator fall into three broad categories:

1. Publish Responsibly 

Take care to publish data safely. Be mindful of privacy, copyright, intellectual property, commercial in confidence and security issues that may relate to your data. In some cases, it may be necessary to publish a public version of your data set that has been re-identified, or is published in aggregate form, while publishing the full data set with limitations on who can access it. Refer to your department’s data release procedures and the Open Data Policy for guidance.

2. Keep Data Up-to-Date

Coordinate within your department to ensure that your data is updated in a timely fashion and does not become stale. You also need to ensure that appropriate change management processes are in place so that users of your data are kept informed and notified of any changes to the structure or maintenance of the data.

3. Well Described Data 

Coordinate work with your data publisher to ensure your data is well described, has supporting collateral, and that you’re available to answer queries about the use, history, map projection and provenance from users of the data. Where access to data is restricted, you may also be asked to provide input on requests for access from other departments or individuals who wish to make use of your data. 


The Data Life Cycle for Creators                    

1. Prepare Data

The data life cycle begins with preparing your data for publishing by ensuring that it meets the technical requirements for being published on data.vbgov.com (e.g. using standard file formats, ensuring it fits within platform limits).

2. Prepare Supporting Material 

Once data preparation is complete, the next key step is preparing supporting material to be published with your data to enable people to understand it (e.g. creating a data dictionary, writing your description of the data set, your methodology, and how it was created).

For geospacial data sets published to gis.data.vbgov.com, it is important to note in which geospacial coordinate system, map projection or datum the data is in. If the geospacial data was transformed from another datum the transformation method should also be noted.

3. Upload and Publish 

With your key preparation steps completed, you’ll now work with your data publisher to upload your data and complete the publishing process. What’s involved in this process will vary depending on the type of data they’re publishing. It may involve using a dedicated publishing tool or involve uploading the data to a specific platform. Your data publisher may need to work with you during the publishing process and in some cases, may involve you directly in uploading the data and specifying how it should be published.

4. Make it Discoverable

Once a data set has been published, your data publisher will work with you to make your data discoverable on data.vbgov.com, establish the complete metadata record, and check that all supporting material has been included. Once this is all in place, congratulations! Your data set is now discoverable alongside a wealth of other data sets from across the City.

5. Ongoing Maintenance 

With your data set now published and discoverable, you’re at the last key step in the data life cycle, ensuring processes are in place for the ongoing maintenance of the data. If your data changes often, the best way to ensure that it’s kept refreshed is to put automated processes in place to publish regular updates.

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