Government Open Data movement powers local business

Socrata, a Seattle-based social data company, was one of the sponsors of the first National Day of Civic Hacking, held June 1-2. Over 11,000 people participated in the event, which was geared toward building technologies to help local, state, and the federal government solve problems for the betterment of the communities. However, Socrata’s reach is far beyond the domestic.

A pioneer in the field of social data – developer of a data sharing platform with social features to enable non-specialists to understand complicated data and to give access to other users who might be facing, or solving, the same issues – Socrata shifted to the public sector at the same time the “open data” movement really started to take off. While there have been impressive results domestically, including Socrata’s involvement in the federal open data site, data.gov, there has also been significant adoption internationally, with customers as diverse as the City of Edmonton and the World Bank using Socrata’s platform and tools. Pricing for the subscriptions has thus far meant that many smaller towns aren’t able to afford the cost, but Socrata expects to change that as they rework their engineering and the concomitant costs.

The focus of the company is not solely on the subscription side; a future project may allow Yelp to attach health inspection reports to online reviews, and another may seee Socrata aggregating and packaging certain sorts of statistics. They have been contacted in the past by insurance companies wanting detailed, zip-code level crime stats, among other requests.

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