Working On-Site at Socrata

March 7, 2013 3:09 pm PST | Data as a Service, Data Rockstars

Last week we enjoyed a visit from Jason Hare, open data program manager for the city of Raleigh, North Carolina. He wrote up some reflections from his week at Socrata. We enjoyed getting to know him and look forward to his next visit.

From Jason:

I just finished my slide deck for my presentation to City Council next Tuesday on Raleigh’s new open data portal. I have twenty minutes to present six months of work and to showcase what I built with the Socrata team last week. Here are some reflections on my time there.

Visiting Socrata

I went to Seattle to visit my implementation team at Socrata headquarters on February 24. I landed in Seattle on Sunday and gave myself a walking tour around the Pioneer Square area that afternoon. Socrata’s offices are located in this historic part of town.

Monday I woke up at 3:30 a.m. local time and started doing my preparation work. My meeting with Data Analyst Kellie Fontes was at 1 p.m. We planned for her teach me more about Socrata’s map building and visualization tools.

I finished my day-to-day work and made my way over to Socrata. I met with the VP of Marketing Saf Rabah, Developer Evangelist Chris Metcalf and several other folks. Saf made sure I understood two things about visiting Socrata:

• Make yourself at home with coffee, snacks or beverages.

• Follow the recycling bin signage very carefully!

Seattle's guidelines for recycling, compost, and garbage.
Seattle’s guidelines for recycling, compost, and garbage.

Working with Socrata

Working with Socrata is like being immersed in all of the open data intiatives world-wide all at once. There is a lot of knowledge to absorb. Folks at Socrata want to hear your own open data story as well as impart what they have learned in the field. This follows my own philosophy toward approaching anything. We are all students.

People at Socrata are curious and want to learn. Some of my favorite discussions were with Saf on the “ubiquity of data.” As well as with Territory Manager Chris Mathias and Kellie on “anthropology and policy.” Chris Metcalf’s discussion with me of schema adoption was also extremely helpful.

I came away with knowing more about how open data is being implemented in the U.S. and learning how open data standards and schema get adopted organically.

Would I Do It Again?

In a heart beat. I hope to return and learn about GovStat and DataSlate. The only thing I would do differently is schedule more time with the key players and have a more structured visit.

I want to learn about DataSlate to visualize our city’s finances. I like what other customers like the World Bank have done with their financial data.


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