Open Data Day Strengthens Community

February 26, 2013 2:30 pm PST | Data as a Service

Congrats to everyone on a very successful International Open Data Day last weekend. And, thank you to all the participants. Between Twitter chatter and attending events in-person, the Socrata team made new friends and spent time doing something we love – working with data.

We attended events in D.C., New York City, and our hometown of Seattle, as well as supplied a data site for the City of Atlanta’s Govathon event. Here is a summary of the what we saw and learned on Open Data Day.

1. New York City

Our developer evangelist Chris Metcalf started his weekend presenting and serving on a panel on “Government APIs” at the API Strategy & Practice Conference, hosted by the API Evangelist, Kin Lane. His fellow panelists were Senior API Strategist at GSA Gray Brooks and Seabourne CEO and Founder Mike Reich.”

Regarding his presentation, Chris says, “I talked about some of the benefits government gain from APIs, the difficulties they encounter trying to implement them, how entrepreneurs and business can help push that movement forward, and how we’re trying to help with our technology.”

Chris then joined Code for America and the Open NY Forum to help with Code Across America hackathon and “ideathon” held at NYU. The event featured three tracks: policy, beginner, and advanced. After getting asked enough questions from the beginner group, Chris and a CfA fellow named Evan spent almost the entire afternoon walking this enthusiastic group through building a basic Javascript webapp. The result?

NY Hack_3_23_13
Brainstorming and a basic software development lesson at NYC Code Across America.

Chris says, “All of them, most of whom had never coded before, had an application that would call the Socrata API, retrieve a filtered list of buildings with their power consumption, and update the page with the results of their query. Along the way they learned a lot of great programming concepts and came away with a much better understanding of how software development works.” Nice work, Chris, Evan, and the ambitious “beginners.”

NYC Hack Day 3_23_13
Group presentations at NYC Code Across America.

2. Washington, DC

In the other Washington, Marcus and Joe, two of our DC office colleagues, attended a hackathon at the World Bank organized by the World Bank Finances team. Check out some of the Finance team’s outstanding work with open data.

Marcus and Joe worked mostly with Chantale Wong of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), helping her create an app for tracking MCC project performance. By the end of the day, they were able to produce a “Millenium Challenge Corporation Dashboard” and were even mentioned at the top of the recap for the day on Tumblr.

Congrats and great work, Chantale, Joe and Marcus!

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 10.39.34 AM
Millennium Challenge Corporation country performance dashboard created at the World Bank hackathon.

3. Seattle

In our rainy hometown of Seattle, Kellie and Melissa from our client services team made their way to Cafe Racer in Seattle’s University District for the first-ever Code for Seattle event. Code for Seattle was founded just three weeks ago by Brandon Faloona and Seth Vincent who met on 

Much of the day was spent deciding on the mission for the group and planning future events. But, people also took time to code and Kellie and Melissa shared a demo of the Socrata platform.

Kellie says, “Melissa and I discussed the top datasets as seen on Socrata sites and demoed how to create filtered views, create visualizations and overlay with GIS files on maps (with the datasets taken mainly from and We also discussed the social engagement tools such as the embed functionality, ability to comment on datasets and suggest new ones.”

Seattle Hack 3_23_13_Pic1
Kellie works on an open data map and keeps track of project ideas at the Code for Seattle hackathon.

Overall, Kellie and Melissa, said that the event was fun and described the group assembled as “passionate and socially-conscious.” That sounds very Seattle.

Kellie and Melissa_Seattle Hack
Melissa and Kellie of Socrata at the Code for Seattle hackathon.

4. Atlanta

Atlanta is moving towards making open data part of the city’s day-to-day. While we weren’t able join the excitement of their inaugural Govathon event in-person, we prepared a website of city data, accessible via APIs, so that developers could work on apps.

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 11.29.07 AM
Open data website Socrata created for Atlanta’s Govathon.


In “Govathon Finds Tech Solutions to Atlanta Problems,” the Atlanta Business Chronicle describes the scene this way: “Fueled by donuts, Red Bull, and the prospect of gift cards, the mostly 20-somethings came up with ideas ranging from a network to reuse vacant real estate; to a website that takes the math out of the city budget; to a mobile app that puts the smart in dumb parking meters.”

Image from Twitter #Govathon stream.
Image from Twitter #Govathon stream.

Get a full list of the apps proposed, including a list of the winners, from Maria Joyner, Atlanta resident and founder and CEO of marketing firm Opportunity and Success: Govathon Solves Real Problems in Atlanta.


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