Open Data Encourages New Research for USDA
To read the USDA NAL’s whole story, click here.
Open data portals are becoming more and more important for government agencies and the citizens they serve. Not only do these portals help organizations reach compliance with the federal open data initiative, they improve the digital citizen experience for all public sector agencies.
The United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library (USDA NAL) wanted to do the same. So they developed an open data portal with GovDelivery to foster transparency in the agricultural science community and encourage long term, large scale research on new, cross-group questions.
And their efforts have been well received by the scientific community.
Since launching their portal, Ag Data Commons, in beta, USDA NAL has filled almost 200 datasets with existing and new information and tweaked their layouts to highlight authors and digital object identifiers, which show who is using what data for what project — two pieces of information that are important quality markers in the community — based on user feedback.
Now USDA NAL’s audience can easily access, understand, download, and analyze data from disparate sources all on their own. Plus, the organization opened the portal to allow registered users to publish their own work, which makes the publishing requirement for USDA-funded projects easier to achieve and encourages greater collaboration on projects, as well as decreases the potential for duplication of work.
Researchers have already taken advantage of the increased potential for collaboration. A genomics project, The Veterinary Pest Genomics Center, an initiative within the USDA Agricultural Research Service, leverages big data to evaluate risk from, and develop mitigations for, invasive veterinary pests. And the Long-Term Agroecosystem Research initiative has published 107 datasets ranging over the past 50 years from 18 research sites that help researchers verify the effects of environmental trends, public policies, and emerging technologies.
Over the next few years, USDA NAL will continue to incorporate user feedback into improvements and publish more diverse and robust datasets on their open data portal to make sure researchers have a credible and viable platform to publish new research when the federal open data directive deadline hits — empowering an entire global community of practice to open their data, share their expertise, and collaborate online. Read more at the success story here.