Congressional Transparency Caucus: How Open Data Creates Jobs

April 2, 2014 11:51 am PST | Effective Governing

On March 24th, the Congressional Transparency Caucus hosted a briefing on the need for increased government transparency, which can be achieved by more governments adopting open data. Open government data fuels economic growth and job creation. The Congressional Transparency Caucus brought together open data experts to discuss this topic, including: 

  • Hudson Hollister, Executive Director, Data Transparency Coalition (Moderator)
  • Joel Gurin, Senior Advisor, NYU GovLab, and author of Open Data Now
  • Chad Sandstedt, Founder, TagniFi
  • Kevin Davis, Business Category Director, FindTheBest
  • Marcus Louie, Evangelist, Socrata

Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Mike Quigley co-chair the House’s Transparency Caucus and presented opening remarks. Marcus Louie, panelist and Socrata team member, shares his impressions of the event.

“This event provided a forum for businesses who use open data as part of the value they provide to describe what is important about having machine-readable, complete, and high-quality data,” he says. Besides Socrata, two companies were present and spoke about how they use open data. The data these companies use is so important to their core business; they spend a tremendous amount of time collecting it, cleaning it, and augmenting it to make the data usable in their products.

“For example, TagniFi employs people to clean and transform SEC financial data, while FindtheBest sends people to physically collect data. Both companies stated that having more data that is machine-readable, complete, and high quality would help them innovate and operate more efficiently,” Louie explains.

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Louie explained to the panel how Socrata helps to unlock the data businesses rely upon and helps make the hard work of accessing data easier. “Our work is central to many merging entrepreneurial success success stories. In this sense, Socrata helps play a role in supporting innovation and job growth,” Louie told the panel. “There is mounting evidence that open data can and is making a measurable difference in contributing jobs, consumer spending, and tax revenue to local economies. Nationwide, new business starts have been decidedly sluggish over the past five years. Yet, cities that have active, government-sponsored open data programs have stayed well ahead of this curve. For example, in Seattle, home of, new business formation in 2011 rose 9.4 percent, three times greater than the national average.” he said.

Want to learn more about open data policies?

Read “How to Develop Your Open Data Policy” from Socrata’s Open Data Field Guide.

Other key takeaways from the panel: 

  • Cities are the focal point of open data innovation because population and infrastructure density present a unique opportunity for collaborations between all levels of government and the larger ecosystem of open data innovators. Investing in cities as hubs of the network will spur the growth of open data at all levels of society.
  • Mandates can be an important public statement of commitment to opening up data. But the most successful cities, counties, and states have focused first on publishing data, engaging developers, and soliciting public feedback along the way. They then adapted administrative policies to improve and help sustain data publishing efforts.

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