A Glossary of Terms


accountability – is the obligation to explain and justify your actions and to be held responsible for your decisions

advocacy groups – a group of people who advocate on behalf of a particular issue, i.e. citizen organizations, special interest groups, lobbyists

answerability – is the obligation to explain and justify your decisions and actions

anonymization – the application of statistical techniques to protect against the unintentional disclosure personal identity and attributes

authoritative – recognized as valid or trusted because it is considered to be highly reliable or accurate or is from an official publication, reference, or information system

authenticity – in the context of participation, means that government engages participants in an ongoing, active process that provides the ability to have a real impact on the decision-making process

application programming interface (API) – a method by which an application program can communicate with the operating system or some other control program to exchange or retrieve data in a structured manner


bribery – giving money, gifts, or favors to change the behavior of the recipient


charrette –  intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development

civil society –  any non-government organization or institution that represents the collective will or interests of citizens; most organizations are either non-profits or lobbyists

civic hacking – convening of a group of civic hackers to make progress toward a solution that improves society

civic hacker – a technologist who uses their technical skills to address problems of a civic nature

citizen – a legalized resident, government participant

citizen science – a form of crowd sourcing that allows non-scientists or a amateurs to contribute observations and/or data to scientific research

co-creation – a form of interaction where participants are actively involved in and empowered to change products and services

co-production – a form of interaction where participants are jointly engaged with governments or businesses to build solutions together

collaboration – is jointly working with others to create something (mutually beneficial)

corruption – is fraudulent conduct by those in a position of power

cronyism – providing a long-standing friend with an appointment to a position of power or award of a procurement, regardless of qualifications

crowd-sourcing – obtaining ideas, services, or content by soliciting contributions from large group of people


data –  characters, numbers, or symbols collected together for computation, statistical analysis or reference; unrefined information

data discovery – the ability to find what data exists and how to access it

dataset –  a collection of data, most often but not always in tabular form

datapalooza –  an event that focuses on demonstrating and highlighting the use open data to address a social problem.

dialogue – a form of crowdsourcing wherein a government poses a series of general questions to citizens in an effort to gain insights or ideas

digital rights management – a technical mechanism that regulates access

deliberative democracy – a form of government or process in which people make decisions about government through consensus rather than voting

democracy – a form of government in which people have vested power to govern themselves

democratization – in the context of government information, means providing equal access

disclosure – to reveal or uncover information that was previously unavailable

dissemination – to make information widely available



(citizens engagement) is the act of involving the public through the political or decision making process of government

(civic engagement) – Individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern

enforcement – is being held responsible for your actions through compliance or force

e-government – the use of information communication technologies such as the Internet by government to facilitate in the operation of government. also called electronic government or digital government. see also government 2.0

e-democracy – the use of information communication technologies such as the Internet by government to enable a more democratic role in the political process; usually promoting increased self government or citizen participation

e-participation – the use of information communication technologies such as the Internet by government to enable and support citizen participation in government


findability – the ability to which information can be discovered and retrieved by an individual

format (file) – the type and form of an electronic file. file formats can be open or proprietary

fraud – false representation of a material fact, whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of that which should have been disclosed, which deceives another so that he acts, or fails to act to his detriment

freedom of information laws – a legal framework that establishes the policies for the dissemination and/or disclosure of government information. Freedom of information laws go by many different names. Other possible names include “sunshine laws”,  “right to know”, “access to information”, “open records”, etc.


gamification – the integration of game mechanics (e.g., achievements, badges, bonuses, levels, points, etc.) into a service or Web site

government 2.0 – the use of technologies associated with Web 2.0 or social media by government to facilitate in the operation of government

government data – data that is created, collected, processed, disseminated by or for government

government information – information created, collected, processed, disseminated by or for government


hackathon – an event where programmers program; technologists and software developers build solutions to problems; also called a codeathon


ideation jam – a brainstorming event where stakeholders come together and deliberate the possible ways in which data or technology can address social problems

incentives – something that encourages or motivates a particular behavior

integrity – behaving according to an agreed upon set of principles and standards

information –  any communication or representation of knowledge facts in any medium or form; refined data

information access – is the ability or permission to use information

information policy – are the laws, regulations, and policies that regulate the flow of information i.e. the use, distribution, creation, and access of information

information and communication technologies (ICT) – similar to information technology (IT), it includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, other communication mediums, and their application

innovation – the act or process of introducing a new method, idea, or product in an establish space

(user innovation) – innovation that is the result of individual consumers, end users, user communities, or citizens

(open innovation) – innovation that occurs when organizations share usually private internal information about process with the public i.e. citizens, consumers, other organizations [often associated with open design = co-creation = collaboration]

intellectual property – is a legal concept that protect intangible assets such as human knowledge and ideas. Examples of intellectual property included copyright, trademarks, and patents


license – a contractual agreement or permit

linked data – a method for publishing structured data that enhances utility of the underlying data that promotes the sharing, connecting, and exposure of data

lobbyist – a person who is paid to influence public decision-making


machine readable – capable of being optimally processed by a computer

metadata – “data about data” – metadata is structural or descriptive information that describes that contents of the associated data or information

mosaic effect – the ability to combine multiple, disparate information sources to identify individuals or entities contained in an anonymized dataset


nepotism – a particular type of cronyism, where the long-standing social relationship is between relatives


open data – data that is free from legal or technical restrictions; data that can b freely used, reused, and redistributed

open meetings – are meetings of a public body that are conducted in full view of the public for the purpose of informing the public of the decision-making process and activities of that public body.

open government – a philosophy that the public has the right to access information about government for the purpose of holding government accountable through public oversight

open source – the philosophy …free distribution of…
open source is often associated with the free and open source software movement


participation – the act of taking part of something

participatory democracy – broad and inclusive participation of all citizens in operation of government

participatory budget – a process where the public deliberates and decides how the budget should be allocated

personally identifiable information (PII) – sensitive or private information that can be used to identify an individual. Examples include name, social security number, date and place of birth, or medical records

public participation – a process that involves the public in decision making or problem solving using public input

power – is the ability or capacity to influence the behavior of others


social media – a term used to refer to a loose collection of web based technologies where media (i.e. information) is communicated through social interaction; e.g. Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Twitter


usability – relating to the degree of ease that information, product, or service can be used to achieve goals efficiently


record – information that is recorded for purpose of serving as evidence of an organization’s action usually in pursuance of a legal obligation

records and information management – the efficient and systematic control of the creation, use, and maintenance of all information including records to properly support an organization


transparency – the dissemination or disclosure of government information [and it’s use by the public]

trust  - confidence or reliablity in a person or action

town hall meeting – an information meeting where citizens have the opporunitiy to voice their concerns and opinions to public officials


web 2.0 – a term used to refer to modern internet technologies that promote social interaction

whistleblowing – exposing misconduct within an organization through disclosure