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Open Data Policy


This document describes our policy on open data.

  • It includes our definition of open data.
  • It describes our best practice for how we create and publish datasets that are available for open reuse.
  • It details the several steps we take to ensure this best practice.

The policy also includes our Code of Conduct for those that wish to use our data.

Additionally, this document also describes how we utilise data that is already open and available.

Intended audiences

This document is for anyone interested in how we produce, publish and use open data.

Document history

This is the first issue of this policy. It was first published in July 2015.

Feedback on this policy

Feedback should be provided via webmaster@ocva.org.uk

Document owners

This policy is owned by OCVA (Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action).

Other information policies

Our open data policy sits alongside policies around Confidentiality, Equality, Website Terms of Use and staff terms and conditions.

Reuse of this policy

This policy is published under Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Mancester's local voluntary and community sector support organisation

This policy is also available for reuse via GitHub, courtesy of MACC

About Us

Company / Charity number(s): 1108504 / 5363946

Registered office: The Old Courthouse, Floyds’ Row, Oxford, OX1 1SS

Open data context

What is open data and why are we working with it?

What is open data?

We subscribe to the following definition of open data:

Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone.

It is subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.

Open data are the building blocks of open knowledge.

Open knowledge is what open data becomes when it’s useful, usable and used.

Why open data?

We are committed to a strong community and voluntary sector in Oxfordshire. We believe that open data can assist with this ambition, through enabling transparency of our actions, in the form of open data.

Our open data goals

When publishing data about our work, we have three main aims:

  • That our data is useful
    We wish to publish data that brings value to those building a stronger community and voluntary sector.
  • That our data is meaningful
    We wish to publish data that adds to the ongoing dialogue and discussion about the sector.
  • That our data is accessible
    We wish to publish data in an open and accessible way, and provide regular narrative and understanding to the stakeholders.

In this context, we aim to operate an open data policy that is robust and practical, leading to greater engagement in the issues faced by the community and voluntary sector in Oxfordshire.

Our open data commitments

What is meant by open data at OCVA?

When considering open data, we commit to the following:

We will publish data openly

  • We will publish data on key aspects of our sector in an open and accessible manner.
  • We will update this data regularly and often.
  • We will provide documentation and descriptions of the data we publish, including a licence.

We will use open data

  • We will analyse, utilise and discuss our own data
  • We will utilise other openly available datasets to provide insight into the voluntary sector of Oxfordshire.

We will support those using our data

When making our data openly available, we maintain a set of expectations, known as our Code of Conduct. If you utilise open data published by us, we request that you consider this.

We will support the sector with open data

In our work with voluntary sector organisations across Oxfordshire, we will provide advice and guidance in terms of publishing and using open data.

This policy provides information relevant to each of these commitments. We describe the key aspects, actions and mechanisms that we use to deliver our open data policy.

Publishing open data

How will we publish open data?

Our principles and best practices

The act of providing open data is to publish and share. We understand that this involves responsibility and due diligence.

When we publish data openly, our aim is to ensure it is of a quality to be accessed, used and understood. In doing so, we place the following expectations on our data publication.

It can often be the case that whilst data is made available openly, it is poor in structure, out-of-date, or has bad quality amongst other aspects. It is the intention of this policy to mitigate against such factors, via these criteria.


Principle: Our open data will respect privacy.
Best practice: We will always ensure our open data is free from identifiers that could be linked to an individual person or organisation. We do this by ensuring our open data set only contains data on organisations who have explicitly consented to our publicly sharing their data. We also do this by ensuring that contact information is not included. Map points are included. These are based on postcodes. Postcodes themselves are not included in the data. Upon providing explicit consent, organisations are advised to act with caution regarding where on a map their group shows up (is pinned).
See also:


Principle: Our open data will be comprehensive for the subject.
Best practice: We will always quality assure our data, in terms of the level of completeness and readiness for publication.
We will not knowingly publish data that is incomplete for the relevant focus and/or time period.
See also:

Meaningful and manageable

Principle: Our open data will be relevant and succinct for the subject.
Best practice: We will always consider the size, scope and spread of our data – to make it useful for those who may want to access it.
We will not publish open data that is overly large, or not provide logics, lookups or additional materials.
See also:


Principle: Our open data will be interoperable.
Best practice: We will not publish data that involves jargon or acronyms that are not documented.
See also:


Principle: Our open data will be presented in an open and standard format.
Best practice:

We will publish data in common, accessible and standard formats such as CSV, XML.We will not publish open data in bespoke, redundant or proprietary formats.

We are discussing a shared standard for peer organisations across the UK. (This includes MACC and NAVCA.)

See also:


Principle: Our open data will be appropriately licenced.
Best practice: We will always issue an open licence with our open datasets. Our default is a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
We will not publish data that is subject to a restrictive licence
See also: Open licence


Principle: Our open data will always be well documented.
Best practice:

We will always provide notes and guidance to accompany our datasets.

We will not purposefully provide data that is poorly described, or requires sector knowledge to comprehend.

See also: /services/oxfordshire-non-profit-data/open


Principle: We will publish data in open, accessible and consistent ways.
Best practice: We will always publish data in a consistent method, making it accessible to all.
We will not publish data with passwords or access restrictions, or in places that are not signposted.
See also:


Principle: Our open data will be timely.
Best practice: We will always provide regular and timely updates to relevant open datasets.
We will not miss updates to our relevant datasets, or let our data go “stale”.
See also:


Principle: We welcome feedback and discussion about our open data.
Best practice: We will always make it clear how to provide feedback on our open data, and any resultant actions.
We will not publish data without a feedback mechanism.
See also: Contact us

Using open data

How will we utilise open data?

Our use of open data sets

Alongside publishing our own datasets, we wish to take an active role in the analysis and discussion of the insights that can be gleaned.

For this reason, we will establish the following as part of our open data policy.

Data release news

Alongside the formal notes and documentation on our datasets, we will post to our main website newsblog, providing narrative and information on data being released and updated.

Data analysis news

Any data visualisations or progress with our open data tool project will also be shared on our main website newsblog.

Using other datasets

When we utilise other datasets in our commentary and analysis, we will always provide clear attribution and guidance as to the source of the data, and any actions we may have taken. Any tools we build will also provide clear attribution.

Data use Code of Conduct

What do we expect from those who use our data?

Our expectations of you

We encourage others to access, use and discuss our open data. We strive towards a strong community and voluntary sector in Oxfordshire, and value the contributions and insights that can be gleaned through use of data.

When doing so, we would hope the following basic Code of Conduct is observed:

Accessing our data

Much of the datasets we publish are succinct and easily available for download. When accessing our data, we request that you do not place unnecessary burden on our servers by making repeated data requests over a short period of time.


When using our data, we request that our licence is observed.

When producing any material that uses our data, please ensure an attribution to OCVA is included.


When making use of our data, always state any steps that were made to undertake calculations or analysis that are not present in the source.


When using our data, you must not:

  • make an application that pretends to be from OCVA;
  • present the data in a misleading or incorrect manner or to misrepresent or change the data;
  • use this site for party political purposes, as the site is part-paid for with public money so it is not appropriate to engage in party-political activity here;
  • use the data in or to support a criminal or illicit activity;
  • use the data on an application to inflame or make comments that are racist, sexist or homophobic, or which promote or incite violence or illegal activity.
  • make copies from which to recreate our business and charity contact data (customer relationship management, CRM, constituent relationship management, contact management) for your own business or non-profit purposes or aims.


We encourage discussion of our data, and the uses of it. In doing so, we request you are respectful of others.


If you spot any mistakes, errors or points for clarification, please feedback via our designated channels.

We also encourage requests and ideas for new data that we may publish. Again, please do so via our feedback channels.

Appendix 1: Open data workflows

The following workflows and checklists are used by our staff in the preparation, publication and update of open data. These are linked to our open data best practices, detailed in our open data policy. Over time, we will update and enhance these workflows.

Data privacy

When preparing any data for publication, we would always undertake the following:

Consideration Action
Does the data contain names of individuals? If yes, then remove
Does the data contain any unique identifiers that can be used to retrieve personal information from external systems? If yes, then remove (postcodes are used to create latitude/longitude points. Those opting in to sharing their data in our data set are encouraged to review what the map point for their organisation should be.)

Data segmentation

When preparing data for publication, we would always undertake the following:

Consideration Action
For any dataset, consider the overall physical file size If over 10MB, then check contents and consider further segmentation
For any dataset, check the column headers and data labels are legible. If not, provide lookup file and note in data release table
For aggregated datasets, check that aggregations are explained and logged. Ensure these are documented in data release table
For any dataset, check that time periods used are in accordance with common standards (eg: financial quarters, calendar months) If there is a bespoke date range, then detail in data release table

Data codes checklist

When preparing data for publication, we will always consider the following:

Consideration Action
For geographic areas used within datasets, provide the code alongside the name. Applicable to: Ward
Provide and/or signpost data users to the latest lookup of any codes used. In the case of administrative geographic regions, refer to authoritative sources such as Ordnance Survey, Office for National Statistics and the NHS.
When using internal / OCVA specific codes, ensure that a lookup and/or explanation is provided. Log this in the data release table.

Data formats checklist

When preparing data for publication, we will always undertake the following:

Consideration Action
For spreadsheets and tabular data, release in standard open formats. Release as:
Open Document Format for spreadsheets (.odf)
Comma Separated Format for flat files (.csv)
When working with other data standards and systems, ensure that the format is open and accessible. Consider XML, JSON or RDF formats as open. Check with standard or publication organisation.
Avoid publishing data in closed, proprietary and formats that make the data inaccessible.

Open data licence

When publishing data, we will always ensure a relevant licence is provided.

Our default licence is a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Consideration Action
Does the dataset fit within the default licence for OCVA?
See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
If yes, then ensure this is in the data release web page/ documentation.
If no, then select alternative, and document accordingly.
Does the data contain any information that is derived from other sources? If yes, then detail these sources in the data release table.
If there may be an issue with these derivations, then seek advice.

Data publication schedule

When publishing – and updating – data, we will always seek to ensure that this is done in a timely manner.

Consideration Action

For datasets that are updated periodically, ensure this takes place within acceptable timeframe.

Monthly updates – two weeks after period ends
Quarterly updates – one month after period ends
Annual updates – three months after period ends

If data publication is outside of these thresholds, update/add to data release table
Ensure that relevant older data can be accessed after an update – that it is not deleted or destroyed. For ongoing statistics, ensure the new time period data is made available alongside other periods.
Where data must be overwritten, document in data release table.

Open data publishing channels

When publishing data openly, we will always check the following:

Consideration Action
When creating data files, use the file naming convention detailed in the data standard used.

See openvcs.github.io for the latest guidance. (For example:

openvcs-v02-ocva.csv where ‘openvcs’ identifies the data format, ‘v02’ identifies the version of openvcs in use (version 0.2 in this case) and ‘ocva’ identifies the name of your organisation (for me it’s OCVA, Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action). I’d suggest not putting the date in the file name because that would change the file name each time. But you could put the date of the data export on its related web page, or even in the text of the link to the file.)

When hosting data files, always ensure that the end URL is accessible, and free from any security barriers, passwords or blocks. If there is an issue in terms of accessing the URL to the data file, seek advice.

Open data feedback mechanisms

When seeking, collecting and receiving feedback on our data, we will always consider the following:

Consideration Action
When an “Issue” is posted via email respond accordingly – even if no acknowledgement. Where the issue can be progressed, respond accordingly.
If no action can be applied immediately, respond accordingly.
When feedback is received via settings such as face-to-face meetings or workshops, consider how best to add this to existing feedback. Where appropriate, create a new Issue for the relevant dataset, attributing the source of the observation / remark.
When comments are made about our usage of open data, respond according to the Code of Conduct.

Attribution checklist

When using datasets published by other organisations, we will always ensure the following attribution considerations are provided within the context of any material we produce unless such use is within any data tool we build. (For details on how usage will be attributed from within our tools please refer to any user or publication notes about such tools.)

Attribution Comment
Name of the dataset utilised eg: Adult Learning Centres
Publisher of dataset eg: Oxfordshire County Council
Source URL (from where the data can be retrieved) eg: oxfordshire.org/open or ocva.org.uk/open
Date retrieved DD/MM/YYYY
Notes on usage Any notes on actions undertaken that result in the source data being changed or modified.

List of datasets published by OCVA. This list will be updated and maintained.

Appendix 2: Open data sets

Dataset Description First published Update(s)
Groups data Aggregate statistics on groups registered with OCVA Sample first published July 2015. Quarterly
Funding data Details of funding provided by us to other organisations Not yet available. Quarterly
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