Open Data Is Here to Stay: Socrata Benchmark Report 2014

November 3, 2014 10:02 am PST | Effective Governing

A day before mid-term elections, the political media is going crazy with “What If” scenarios.  “Will Democrats or Republicans control the Senate?”  “Who will win at the individual State level?” and even, “What does this all mean for the 2016 elections?”  While the outcome of many political races remains uncertain, one thing government officials – both incumbent or newly elected – can say with certainty today is that open data is here to stay.  

Last Friday, we published the Socrata 2014 Open Data Benchmark Report, conducted by independent research firm, EMC Research, and commissioned by Socrata.  The online research study asked more than 1,200 participants – 961 of whom were self-identified as working in government in the United States – their views on Open Data.  And the results couldn’t have been clearer – open data is being invested in across all levels of government and throughout all regions of the United States.  According to the report, “80 percent of the respondents say they will invest the same or more in their open data initiatives – in the next 6 months.”

The open data movement goes far beyond its early days of a pure transparency play.  More and more, government officials, or those in the running, are turning towards open data as a new asset that they can use to better connect with their constituents, as well as run a more efficient and effective government.  For example, in the Socrata Benchmark Report, nearly all participants who work in government agree, “open data initiatives increase trust (83 percent agree) and engagement (86 percent agree) among constituents.”  Furthermore, government respondents agree, “open data could have its greatest impact in Government services, Government organizational performance, and Financial information.”

Regardless of whether you are re- or newly-elected into office starting tomorrow, as a government official you’re embarking upon a new way of life as a leader – one where data-driven decisions not only matter, but also become the norm.  As the old adage goes, “with power, comes responsibility.”  And there is no better way to demonstrate accountability and impact that than through data.  As our survey respondents tell us, “open data programs can spark economic development (71 percent believe so) and improve constituents’ lives (67 percent believe so).”  Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of our study’s respondents confirm that open data has lead directly to economic development in their communities.  And how is that economic development manifesting itself?  Our survey found that of the 39 percent who see a direct link between open data and economic impact in their communities, “75 percent have seen an increase in business formation, 72 percent have seen an increase in job creation and 59 percent have seen an increase in tax revenues.”

As sure as the polling results will become by the end of the day on November 4th, open data has become a new and powerful natural resource for all elected officials to harness as they begin to govern their constituents in this new era of data-driven government.  At Socrata, we think that the government officials who not only embrace, but also proactively implement and evolve, their open data initiatives that will be the ones less apt to be wondering “What If” the night before the next election day.

We invite you to download and read the full Socrata 2014 Open Data Benchmark Report and look forward to delivering this report to you, annually, for many election cycles to come.

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