Getting Started for Data Publishers

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 The Toolkit provides a wealth of guidance, how to guides, and examples for both publishers and users of data.

Data Publishers  

Data publishers are the second link in the data life cycle. You’re involved in managing and publishing data sets for your department and are often the first point of contact for users of your data. You work closely with data creators to make sure that the data is well described, is made available in interpretable data formats, and is kept up-to-date and changes to the data are managed appropriately.

Your Responsibilities

The responsibilities of a data publisher fall into four broad categories:

1. Data Publishing Expertise

Having a strong understanding of the mechanical and technical processes involved in supplying and publishing data. Working with data creators in your department, you’ll be involved at every step of the life cycle of their data- from giving advice on preparing data for publishing, the processes for publishing a new data set; managing the ongoing maintenance of data, including data refreshes and change management; and decisions around retiring and archiving data sets.

2. Making Data Usable

You play a key quality assurance role by liaising with your data creators to ensure that the supporting material and collateral they provide, follows best practice and is understandable by the wider community of data users. The key to making the data usable by others is making sure that data sets have good metadata that describes how the data was created, its origins, and any relevant caveats or known limitations of the data.

3. Open Data Champion

As a data publisher you’re responsible for working with your data creators to ensure that data is published safely and follows your department’s data release procedures. As your department’s champion for the Open Data Policy, you’ll be working to ensure that data is published openly and publicly whenever possible, and that best practice is followed in choosing licenses for data that permit broad reuse.

4. Bringing Your Data to the World

You will play a key role in how data from across your department is presented on, by ensuring that it is discoverable and easy to understand. You’ll be the first point of contact for inquiries about data your department has published, as well as requests for publishing new data. You will work across departments at the City to ensure that you’re maximizing your own use of the data infrastructure powering, everything from streamlining how you handle requests for data to making use of the data visualization and querying functionality built-in to the platform. 

The Data Life Cycle for Publishers                 

1. Prepare Data

The data life cycle begins with your data custodians preparing their data for publishing by so that it meets the technical requirements for being published on (e.g. using standard file formats, ensuring it fits within platform limits). You’ll work with them to ensure they’re aware of the requirements, and may need to liaise with the Open Data Team on any issues.

2. Prepare Supporting Material 

Once data preparation is complete, your data custodians will need to prepare supporting material to be published with the data to help people understand it (e.g. creating a data dictionary, writing your description of the data set, a methodology statement describing how the data was constructed and any limitations and caveats). You’ll work with your data custodians to ensure that the material is comprehensive and easily understandable by others.

For geospacial data sets the native map projection, a coordinate system or datum needs to be defined in the data set and in the supporting material

3. Upload and Publish 

With these key preparation steps completed by your data custodian, it’s now over to you to upload the data and complete the publishing process. What’s involved in this process will vary depending on the type of data you’re publishing. It may involve using a dedicated publishing tool, or involve uploading the data to a specific platform. You may need to liaise with your data custodians during the publishing process, and in some cases you may want to involve them directly in uploading the data and specifying how it should be published.

4. Make it Discoverable

Once a data set has been published you’ll work with the data custodian to make your data discoverable on, 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.

Quick Links:

Data Creators
Data Professionals
Data Consumers
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