Data portals and similar websites can facilitate the distribution of open data by providing an easy-to-access, searchable hub for multiple data sets. At their best, these portals or hubs promote interaction with and reuse of open data and provide documentation for the use of information (see Provision 13). Portals can be generalized or specific (e.g., a spending or ethics portal), and can vary in terms of their sophistication. For specific portals, they should link to related portals when appropriate. Users looking at a portal for city campaign finance data, for example, could benefit from seeing a direct link to that city’s portal for lobbying information. Portals and other related websites also provide governments with the opportunity to go into detail about issues and policies related to its commitment to openness and transparency. To facilitate their findability these websites should permit indexing and searching by third parties such as search engines.
There are several helpful features that should be included in general or specific portals. A list of what data is contained there is one necessary feature that makes it easy for users to quickly see what kinds of information are available on the data portal. If appropriate, this could be done through a link to a data inventory. Another beneficial feature to include in data portals is a view of analytics on data downloads. This will help users and government data providers understand what datasets are of the highest interest.