Open Data Day 2015 Round Up

February 26, 2015 5:00 am PST | Data as a Service

Socrata was proud to participate in multiple events across the world to support Open Data Day 2015. Team members from each event detail their experiences, below.

Chris Metcalf, Seattle:

I had the joy of participating and sponsoring/bagel-ing Seattle Open Data Day at the Paul Allen Center on the University of Washington campus. It was a great opportunity for many of the movers and shakers in the Seattle open data and gov tech community, along with a large contingent of those new to open government, to get together and talk about how we can all do our jobs better. Turnout was awesome, with about 85-100 people participating.

In 27 different unconference sessions, we debated how to license open data, discussed the privacy ramifications of open government, and came up with strategies to work more closely with our government counterparts to realize our shared goals. I gave an information-packed hour long seminar on how to access open data via the Socrata Open Data APIs. Overall it was an awesome day and a great time for us to hit the pause button and figure out how to do open data better. For more information, see the Hackpad with notes and sessions, or click here for photos.

2015-02-21 09.37.18 2015-02-21 10.20.08


Clare Zimmerman, Boston: 

I had the pleasure of attending the CodeAcross event in Boston for Open Data Day, organized by Code for Boston and MassIT. The event took place at MIT’s Media Lab in Cambridge on Saturday, February 21 through Sunday, February 22. We started the day off with some opening remarks from Bill Oates, CIO from Mass IT, and Harlan Weber from Code for Boston. A number of groups formed to work on projects from Saturday into Sunday afternoon. There were three workshops at lunch on the first day: PowerBI by Microsoft, SODA API by Socrata, and MassGIS Resources by MassIT. Some of the awesome projects that came out of the event included MBTA Ninja (Waze for the T), an app to look up 311 requests in the greater Boston area, and a Rate My Foster Home application for children, parents, and social workers in the foster system.

clare 1

Drew Rifkin, Edmonton:

Open Data Day in Edmonton was honoured by a Hackathon hosted by the Edmonton Public Library (EPL). The event brought together data collectors, policy makers, and computer coders able to translate raw data sets into interactive applications and visualizations to better reach and engage the public.  

Inspired by the City of Edmonton’s recently launched 311 Explorer (an interactive map that lets users see what complaints or concerns are being reported to the city, where the complaints came from and whether the issue has been resolved), developers were working on tools to help with real estate decisions, locations of public art installations and map that showed where different languages are spoken around Edmonton.  

As well, the Government of Alberta, in partnership with Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, announced they are hosting Apps for Alberta, an innovation competition using Alberta open data. Apps for Alberta is offering $70,000 in cash prizes to encourage the brightest and most creative minds in Canada and the United States to develop apps.

For more info:

Christian Hoogerhyde, Virginia:

For Open Data Day 2015 I attended Northern Virginia’s 2015 CodeAcross event, which brought together local government staff, civic hackers, web designers, and interested citizens for a snowy day of problem-solving in the halls of the National Science Foundation. After a project proposal from The Women’s Center, a nonprofit network of education and mental health counseling centers, to build or deploy a new web-based scheduling and reservation system, teams split up to work on a variety of open data applications and projects. As snow accumulated outside, teams hacked away on their projects, prepared presentations and demonstrations, and generally had a good time reveling in the fun that is open data. Some of the projects which were developed or improved during the event include, Project Play Alexandria, and multiple proposals to assist The Women’s Center. After a successful day of collaboration, event participants entered the snow rejuvenated about the potential for open data and technology to make a real difference.

Taylor Allison & Matt Briscoe, Vancouver:

Matt and I decided to hit all three hackathons in Vancouver this weekend. Below is a synopsis of our experience at each event. In general, Canada seems to have a strong ecosystem of passionate, maple syrup loving, civic hackers.

  • OpenDataBC
    • Conversed with local hackers and shared prior hackathon projects to stimulate ideas
    • Hackathon ideas:
      • Soccer field finder, w/text update on park closures
      • Parking spot finder
      • Visualization tool comparing energy usage/carbon emissions with GDP contribution
  • Smart Cities Hackathon
    • Met Roger Lea & Mike Blackstock – CEO & CTO of Sense Tecnic, (, internet of things service provider connecting real time sensor (and citizen censor/sensor) data to the open data network
      • potential ODN Partner
    • Connected with David Vogt, organizer of Smart Cities Hackathon and Founder of UrbanOpus, non-profit dedicated to fostering the Open Data and SmartCities movement
    • Met Loren Mullane & Linda Low – Community Engagement and Open Data lead for the Province of BC, and Open Data Coordinator in City of Vancouver
  • CODE Vancouver
    • Met Canada’s Federal Open Data team including Ashley Casovan
    • Event was broken out into three large categories
      • healthy living
      • economic development
      • and, operational efficiency (well run city)
    • Teams were required to use at least one federal dataset, federal team hoping to grow ideas beyond hackathon into actual usage (3 day event)

Reid Serozi, North Carolina:

The 2nd Annual Triangle Open Data Day (TODD) took place this past weekend at the North Carolina State University School of Engineering. (Raleigh Durham area). An initiative of TechTank, TODD unites developers, data analysts, civic leaders, students, and activists in a weekend of learning, liberating data and building applications to display useful information.

There were great presentations covering topics including economic development, health, and public safety. The presentations were delivered by active members of the community, who spent time time educating attendees on visualizing Raleigh’s SeeClickFix open311 data, analyzing Wake County Restaurant Inspection data, viewing Town of Cary site plan development in maps, and looking for patterns with NCDOT Bike Crash data.


Adrian Laurenzi, NYC:

In short, the event was AWESOME!! I had an incredible time and really enjoyed the hackathon/unconference format. We ended up doing two unconference sessions on the NYC data portal (we did the second on Sunday because there was so much interest in it on the first day). I also did a SODA API deep dive that went really well on Saturday. 

On another note, some of the interesting people I worked with were John Krauss (doing some really cool stuff to make it easier/faster to download large datasets from NYC or any other Socrata data portal), a couple entrepreneurs working on a real estate startup powered by NYC open data (, and the CityGram team.

Tej Chigateri, NYC:

As Adrian mentioned, due to popular demand on Day 1, we were requested to do another session on Day 2 with an intro to Socrata and walk-through of the APIs. I also joined a group that worked on the Open Data Portal and the NYC 311 dataset to enhance Citygram with additional search capabilities. I also had a great opportunity to meet our friends and new folks in the NYC civic fraternity including Council Member Gale Brewer,Ben Wellington from I Quant NY and our customer Nick O’Brien from NYC Mayor’s Office of Data & Analytics. Overall, it was a very successful event. 

Mark Silverberg, Washington, D.C.:

Open Data Day D.C. was great. Our Socrata team attended the all-day hackathon and split up to run a project around Public Health Data Repository & Streamlining Use  as well as supporting newly launched

Steve Ellsworth, Miami-Dade County: 

-South Florida is setting itself up to be one of the epicenters for Civic Tech in the U.S. with Miami-Dade opening their data (watch out Chicago, San Francisco, and New York) and with the support of the Knight Foundation
– The CIAO office, and Mike Sarasti in particular, at Miami-Dade County are true partners for the Brigade (CodeForMiami) and have embraced them as an extension of how they can better engage and bring more services to the local community.
– Projects included a “Miami-Dade Answers”, “211”, ‘Mapping Flood Areas”, and identifying hotspots for dangerous animals (people being bitten) based upon the County’s 311 Data.
Ewan Simpson and Ori Pleban, Richmond:
We attended the Code Across RVA Hackathon in Richmond, Virginia, hosted by the local Code for America brigade. Teams of developers, public employees, and designers came together to address a wide variety of citywide issues. Using Code for RVA’s Brigade Portal provided by Socrata, participants created public datasets and API’s that they were able to leverage for their projects.

Some of the projects completed during the event include an app for finding the nearest medical facility that provides testing for Sexually Transmitted Illnesses, a 311-related dataset drawing from Richmond’s SeeClickFix portal, a dataset with 10-years worth public crime data scraped from the Richmond Police Department website.

During lunch, a panel of state and local officials discussed the opportunities and pitfalls associated with government open data initiatives.  Overall, the event was a great success and highlighted the important ways Richmond can leverage and build upon open data initiatives on the both the local and state level.


All in all, it was a fantastic weekend of open data and Socrata was proud to participate once again. We want to hear from you! Tell us your stories from Open Data Day 2015 in the comments!

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