Socrata Connect Day 1: What’s Next for Socrata, Austin’s Data Romance, Bonobos & Big Data

May 17, 2018 4:35 pm PST | Data as a Service

What a great first day! We got a look at what’s ahead for Socrata, saw videos of frustrated bonobos monkeys (there’s a data tie-in, trust us), and heard data leaders from cities across the country share their challenges and strategies. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the first day of Socrata Connect.


What’s Next for Socrata?


It’s been a big year for Socrata! To start off the day, Founder Kevin Merritt, President of the Data & Insights Division for Tyler Technology, shared some of the company’s proudest accomplishments. They include:

  • An improved data-as-a-service platform — we sped it up, and you’ll find that it’s easier to add data into it, too
  • A data transformation engine — put in your messy data, then clean it up in the Socrata platform
  • Even more awesome visualizations & maps — create charts that are informative and useful; add maps that allow users to pan, zoom, tilt , and more
  • A better mobile experience — includes a mobile-friendly grid of the raw, pure data
  • Citizen Connect — an innovative geospatial interface that makes it easy for constituents and elected officials to track issues
  • Added alerts and notifications — internal users can know when data changes, constituents, too

That’s a long list! And, it all led into what’s next for Socrata. Kevin introduced the Socrata Connect Government Cloud (SCGC). SCGC is a robust, enterprise-level solution for internal data use.


With SCGC, you’ll be able to break down silos, and transforms data into information that employees can use to make program improvements. “We think SCGC is going to make your jobs easier — and shift data usage from a compliance mandate to something that happens as a byproduct of using your data to improve your programs,” says Kevin. Read more about SCGC.



And what about Tyler Technologies? “You may not know us,” says Bruce Graham, Chief Strategy Officer at Tyler Technologies, “but you’re probably using one of our solutions.” The merger between Socrata and Tyler brings together Tyler’s vast storehouse of data with Socrata’s ability to make data actionable — using it to help improve programs. Tyler Technology is eager to simplify how agencies and jurisdictions share data. “We can create thriving communities and transform our country from the ground up,” says Bruce.


Data Plus People, Strategy, Practice, and More

Our whole conference is devoted to the idea of doing more with data. But, an interesting theme running across several presentations was the notion that data can do a lot — but not everything.



Kimberly Olivares, Chief Performance Officer for our host city, Austin, talked about how the city fell in love with data. She spoke about building a culture of collaboration, transparency, and data-driven conversations. And, the need to keep striving for the next level — just like with any relationship.

The words “killing it!” are the best way to describe Fullbright and National Science Foundation Fellow Dr. Tricia Wang’s presentation on qualitative data. 



She talked about the need for “thick data” — that is, qualitative data from humans, drawn from their personal narratives. Because qualitative data alone isn’t sufficient. Strategy and practices are also essential if you truly want to do more with data. And, about those bonobos: Tricia shared research on morality in the form of charts and graphs. Interesting enough — but it’s when she shared a videos of bonobos getting positively enraged when they didn’t receive a well-deserved treat that’s when we all really responded. It’s a good reminder that emotions can be deeply convincing. Also, who doesn’t like monkeys?



And that sentiment — about data’s importance, but not being the sole driver to success  — was echoed in Kimberly Rodriguez of City of LA and Megan Goulding of USC’s presentation on the Neighborhood Data for Social Change (NDSC) platform. It brings data on 10 policy areas onto a single, visual, interactive platform so community members can take initiative around topics like food insecurity, housing and real estate, and transportation. And, both Kimberly and Megan use NDSC as a basis for teaching data literacy classes all over LA.


Get Ready for Tomorrow

We have rich line-up of speakers tomorrow, including Massachusetts Comptroller Tom Shack, USDOT CDO Dan Morgan, and HHS CDO Mona Siddiqui. Plus, we’ll enjoy a very happy happy-hour to wrap up the day. 

Can’t be at the event? Watch the Livestream to see every event on the main stage.

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