A data standard is a reusable agreement, which helps to steward data in a more consistent way.

Standards are an important element of a strong data infrastructure, and a critical underpinning of Smart Data, data portability and interoperability more broadly.

Data standards can create a number of benefits if widely adopted. They can help people to adopt the same vocabulary and language using common attributes, definitions and models. Data standards can enable a better exchange of data within and between organisations using common formats and shared rules. Standards can also provide guidance and recommendations for sharing better quality data and understanding processes and the flow of information.

Using open standards is a way of ensuring that the data infrastructure built by a given Smart Data initiative is consistent with, and interoperates with, other parts of the wider data infrastructure, by adopting existing rules, language and concepts.

Much of the success of Open Banking can be attributed to its adoption of data and non-data standards. These include technical standards so that data can be shared and used effectively, user experience standards to provide a seamless experience, and operational guidelines so that implementations meet minimum service requirements. The standard setting was undertaken by the Open Banking Implementation Entity, and organisation created to facilitate the creation of the standards, and later steward them. The creation of new, purpose-driven organisations may be needed to implement standards in other Smart Data schemes.

Given the clear benefits, many countries from Australia to Mexico are using these standards as a blueprint for their own domestic Open Banking initiatives.

Open Standards for Data Guidebook

The ODI Open Standards for Data Guidebook can support Smart Data initiatives in identifying and adopting open standards for data, or creating new open standards if necessary. Smart Data initiatives should adopt existing open standards if they exist. These open standards can be found through formal networks (e.g. ISO members) and informal networks (e.g. conferences, working groups). The Open Standards for Data Guidebook also provides this tool to find such networks. When adopting an open standard for data, an initiative should consider the following:

  • Is this standard licensed for anyone to use?

  • Is this standard designed to meet the initiative’s needs? Who is the target audience? What key features are available? What skills and additional resources are needed to interpret or use the data most effectively?

  • Is the standard actively maintained? Are there any communities that might support the implementation process?

Standards for data are not just file formats, taxonomies and schemas. Often initiatives struggle to overcome simple barriers, such as language and ways of working, when they engage in multi-stakeholder collaboration. When adopting and creating standards with your stakeholders, you should explore more than just technical standards. When adopting non-technical standards, especially with stakeholders from other disciplines, you might consider the following:

  • Do the technical words from other disciplines match the definitions in mine?

  • Is there an existing code of practice that we can adopt for the initiative?

  • Are there standard approaches to collecting, storing and sharing data and information that we can agree upfront?

Last updated