Powering Open Data with Socrata

Posted on October 23, 2014

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Socrata Launches Apps Marketplace to Help Governments

The 70’s had the free love movement, this decade has the open data movement. One of the leaders of that movement is Socrata. You may remember them from #ELGL14 – huge computer monitor, cool giveaways, and right by the pizza line. In case we didn’t get a chance to interact with them, we’re providing this follow up piece.

Background Check

Socrata (Twitter, and YouTube) helps public sector organizations improve transparency, citizen service, and data-driven decision-making. Our user-friendly solutions deliver data to governments trying to reduce costs, to citizens who want to understand how their tax dollars are used, and to civic hackers dedicated to creating new apps and improving services.

The Socrata Apps Marketplace unlocks the full potential of the Open Data Network™.  It helps government buyers access the latest civic app innovations to increase constituent engagement; helps improve the quality of life for citizens with apps that are easy to find and easy to use; and helps civic app developers access the technical infrastructure and business models they need to successfully monetize their applications.

 Q & A with Shawn Ahmadi


Financial Transparency Advisor 

Connect: LinkedIn and Twitter

Highlight three local government projects that best represent Socrata.

Oregon Secretary of State – Saved $500,000 by using the State’s Open Data portal to serve and host their trademark program instead of a customized solution.

Oregon State Agencies are using their data as a platform to modernize service delivery, improve information flow and reduce costs.

Oregon Marine Board – A three-year problem solved in two hours

Editor’s Note: we added a fourth which is featured in this video.


Local government ultimately reports to the citizens. Describe the benefits provided by Socrata that would be a benefit to our citizens.

Civic engagement, public trust and transparency are becoming vital facets of any successful government. There is a reason why citizens typically sit at the very top of an org chart. The question is, how do we empower and invest in our taxpayers to allow them to become the voice of our government? This begins with the ability to access and utilize data in a way that everyone can digest. Socrata helps bridge that gap.

You’ve worked with a number of government clients. Give us three tips for how government can improve their relationship with consultants. 

  • Start by creating optimal access to data you already publish. Communicating your budget and expenditure data outside of large PDF and spreadsheets in dynamic visualizations are basic examples of ways to improve the dynamic with your community.
  • Look for ways to circulate data to where constituents currently go to for information. By delivering relevant data in the most user-friendly format, it will have the broadest impact on the day to day lives of people.
  • Utilize dashboards and visualizations to track, measure and communicate performance-driven data that typically lives in a variety of sources. Setting tangible goals and showing progress towards these metrics further creates civic engagement and public trust.

What are the greatest challenges vendors face working with the public sector?

Citizen expectations evolve at the same rapid rate as technology. The traditional approach to adopting technology in the public sector generally moves at a slower pace creating a disconnect between government organizations and their citizens.  

Fast forward to March 2020, how will local governments make better use of data?


In today’s world, when a citizen wants to access public information such as neighborhood safety, he or she has to visit their local government page or request information from public websites. I anticipate that by 2020, or even sooner, we will start seeing public data directly where the consumers currently are already. A great example would be the Zillow app. Having the ability to get the data into the hands of the end-user unleashes the full power of data.

Give us three things that local government can do better with the help of Socrata.


  • Improve internal efficiencies and save costs associated to governmental operations through access to data
  • Enhance civic engagement and public trust by delivering information in a digestible format
  • Track, measure, and leverage data to gauge progress and make better decisions.

Describe a couple of ways that ELGL can have a positive impact on the local government arena.

  • ELGL delivers a breath of fresh air to the public sector by educating and showcasing new efforts of building the governments of tomorrow. ELGL truly serves as an asset by being a powerful hub for innovative government leaders.
  • Continue to host events providing opportunities for technology companies and public leaders to discuss trends and best practices.

Supplemental Reading

Socrata Announces Inaugural Winner of Open Data-Powered Civic Engagement Award

Councilmember Hans Riemer Joins Free Law Founders

SunGard Public Sector and Socrata Announce Strategic Engagement

Open data is nearing adolescence, so how do we make sure it grows up strong?

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