Open Data Processes – Taps, Query Paths/Audit Trails and Round Tripping

A few quick thoughts on open data processes and how we might start to put some of all this open public data to work, maybe via transparent data processes, not least in the institutions that are publishing it all…

Data Taps

The idea behind a data tap is simple – just tap off a view of the data as one institution provides it to another:


Tapping data is part of the motivation behind using FOI requests to identify standard reporting forms that may be used as part of a white box (open and transparent) data exchange process.

Query Paths/Audit Trails

Query paths describe a process in which is it possible to see how a particular data view or set of summary data was obtained from a one or more data sources:

For an example use case, see So Where Do the Numbers in Government Reports Come From?.

Round Trips

Round tripping refers to the ability to regenerate a data source from a data report, as for example taking data out of an HTML table and popping it into a spreadsheet or database):

If common data fields are used across datasets, it may be possible to populate fields in one data “source” automatically from another:

Round tripping means that we can reuse data, once entered, to populate other reporting forms.

[See also: Open Data Handbook]

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...