How Innovative Leaders in Detroit Promote Their Data

November 21, 2016 12:00 pm PST | Open Data

Recently, Detroit open data rock stars, Garlin Gilchrist, Director of Innovation and Emerging Technology, and Joel Howrani Heeres, Director of Open Data and Analysis, joined us for a discussion on how the city first promoted their open data program and how they continue to do so. Here are Gilchrist and Howrani Heeres’ best tips to promote your government’s open data program.

The Initial Launch

Garlin Gilchrist
Garlin Gilchrist presents the Detroit Open Data site. Photo courtesy of the city of Detroit.

When Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan signed an executive order and launched the GO DATA (Government Open Data Access To All) initiative in February 2015, he held a press conference with the city’s Chief of Police and Chief Information Officer in attendance. Gilchrest demoed their new Detroit Open Data website to local and trade press and community stakeholders, where he showed available data and the site’s simple navigation. The launch successfully earned media attention because city officials made time to promote the initiative and data site together.

Continued Promotion

Since their initial launch, Detroit has continued to promote their data program both internally and to citizens. Below are three ways that Detroit promoted their site that can be replicated by other governments after launching.

  1. Offer Data Workshops: Detroit partnered with the University of Michigan and Data Driven Detroit, a local data organization, to host a series of three data-driven workshops for community members, city employees, and students. The workshops successfully helped people with different skill levels get more comfortable working with and analyzing data.
  2. Collaborate with Different Departments: Detroit’s data team meets with different departments to learn about their goals and current pain points. The team works with the departments to find a way to leverage open data to help solve their challenges. They take a collaborative approach to getting departmental commitment which is extremely beneficial to both teams.
  3. Create an Open Data Newsletter:Howrani Heeres distributes an email newsletter to residents and Detroit employees with data program updates. The newsletter also helps Detroit’s data team celebrate success with their partnering departments because it communicates about the work they’ve done to the general public and their government peers.

Check out Detroit’s on demand recording of their webinar for more tips about how to promote your program.


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