Cultivating Democracy

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DKAN

Organize, Store, Graph, Map and Share Your Data

DKAN Powers Dynamic, Data-Driven Decision-Making

Governments and civic organizations are increasingly embracing the open data movement and with it the prospect of unprecedented public transparency. However, organizations often need a sophisticated data repository to make information accessible to citizens and civic organisations, particularly in formats that can be accessed by other computers via application programming interfaces (APIs). Raw data, even when publicly shared, is not easily understood, and needs to be turned into data-driven stories to be useful to the public in holding institutions to account or assisting policymakers. The DKAN DemTool, developed by NuCivic, helps tackle these problems. Government organizations, journalists, policymakers or civic groups can create searchable, indexed public repositories of information compatible with open data standards. Data analysts and visual storytellers can then tap that information to create charts, graphs, maps and web pages to wrap raw numbers in powerful visualizations that illuminate meaning and have impact.

Why Would You Use DKAN?

Publicly Sharing Open Data, Maps and Visualizations

DKAN was designed for groups who want to share data with the world in open, public, machine-readable formats, or generate maps, charts and other visualizations off of the data. This data may be their own - budgets from a ministry or survey information from a civil society organization (CSO’s) members - or it may be other information that they’ve aggregated from other sources, or scraped from public web sites. The end goal of such a data portal is  helping to increase understanding of complex information-centric topics which can lead to political accountability and better policy making. Remember that audiences are rarely the general public, who have little appetite for spreadsheets or even stacked bar charts; they are usually intermediary groups such as CSOs, journalists, or even public officials and their staffs who affect either public opinion or government policy. Groups are better advocates for their priority issues with information that is readily available and able to be analyzed rapidly without a high level of technical skills.

DKAN’s design allows publicly shared large open datasets with standard open-data APIs. Organizations who want to build open data platforms that are fully compatible with the gigantic systems used by the White House or World Bank - and the large civic software development community around them - will find DKAN useful.

Maps and graphs can often tell a story more effectively than a table of numbers; DKAN gives the ability to create colorful, customizable visualizations that can be published directly, shared on social media or embedded in other web sites. With digitized boundaries of as countries or provinces maps can be automatically generated to look for geographic trends, reducing the need for complicated and often costly GIS software.

DKAN allows you to create a variety of visualization types so you can select the most effective graphical depictions to communicate your findings. Color-gradient maps can highlight highlight differences between regions, while a range of powerful chart and graph generators can show changes over any number of variables.

Internal Data Archiving and Visual Analysis

Because DKAN is relatively simple to use, it can also be a powerful tool for simple internal data warehousing or visual analysis. Once an organization knows how to manage data in DKAN, it can be a good system for archiving old data sets for future reference, or a simple way to generate the same sorts of charts and graphs that one could in Excel - but automatically shareable online and dynamically updated as information changes.