A TCRP report on open data offers suggestions--and cautions--for agencies interested in sharing their data.
The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration, conducted a project to identify models for the sharing of public transit agency data. The full report is intended to provide a "how-to" guide for agencies preparing for data sharing, including benefits, general sources of expense, and potential risks to the process. The report was assembled through interviews with industry professionals and informational review.
The end of the report includes summarized key findings. These included the following recommendations and identified best practices:
- Share data on transit passengers to generate value. The data gathered by transit agencies may be of interest to customers, journalists, real estate developers, and researchers, and used to create interest in an agency's operations or augment advertising revenue.
- Ensure robust data privacy protocols. Agencies should be sure that any data released to others have been reviewed so that identification of passengers is not possible.
- Understand local data-related legislation. Different municipalities may have differend regulations on data and data processing, and it is crucial that agencies comply with whatever legislation applies to them.
- Implement data standards. The report noted that many agencies are looking to external organizations for standards creation and adoption guidelines. Standardization has the potential to increase the value of data sharing and to make it significantly more efficient.
- Leverage open software tools. By using open tools, agencies can augment the value of their data, in addition to making it easier for them to analyze outside datasets for themselves.
- Link agency datasets to external datasets. There is potential value in using external sets to help agencies understand first- and last-mile trips and modal alternatives to transit, for example.