A good understanding of local government data, particularly the contexts in which the data are collected and created, is essential in order for data guardians and users to effectively manage that data and to draw accurate and rich information from them.
However, our knowledge of both local government data and data contexts is very limited, which poses a wide range of challenges to data initiatives inside and outside local governments, from open data to data analytics.
This paper explores the mechanisms of data generation and the determinants of data contexts in local governments.
To do so, we conducted an in-depth case study of data collection and creation in a city government in New York State in the U.S., focusing on administrative data.
We found that local government data are collected or created in three ways: original raw data collection, original raw data creation, and second or higher-order data creation.
Both the internal and external environments of local governments add complexity to data management by influencing who, what, where, when and how to collect and create data for administrative purposes through these processes.