Roles in open data: Raccoon or monkey?

During the second ODECO training week in Zaragoza, Spain, an energizer was organized where ESRs had to guess the name of an animal that was put on their back. They had to guess it with the help of other ESRs who can only act the animal out without speaking. One of the ESRs was assigned with “Raccoon”. His fellow ESR acted a behavior of an animal that collects and eats food from a garbage can. The guessing ESR thought the answer is “Monkey” since in his country, that is a typical behavior of monkeys. Raccoons do not live in his country.


Besides the fun, this exercise also inspired us in thinking about actors in an open data

ecosystem: roles that may typically be played by a certain organization in one context, may be played by a different organization in another context. For illustration, in one country, a government entity may create a map of the country and publish it in an open data portal. In this case, the government entity is considered an open data provider. In another country, a similar government entity may collect and combine maps created and managed by different regional or local government entities, with consistent metadata, and publish it in an open data portal. In this case, the government entity plays the role of an open data intermediary.


Those who are used to the situation in the first country will not immediately recognize a

government entity as an open data intermediary since it is typically an open data provider. This shows that context is important in understanding the roles of different actors in an open data ecosystem. This context may not only be in terms of geography, but can also be in terms of domain (e.g. transportation, education, agriculture).


The ‘animal’ energizer highlighted that also open data researchers (including those in

ODECO) and practitioners, have to be mindful of the context of the open data ecosystem when doing research or designing policy/business models related to actors in the ecosystem.


Ashraf Shaharudin

Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Bastiaan van Loenen

Delft University of Technology, Netherlands