Lombardia: Using Open Data to Drive Performance, Accountability, and to Change Lives
In order to encourage citizens to interact with data, Lombardia chose to adopt Socrata’s open data portal in 2013. Once the capacity for playing with data was in place, Lombardia swiftly expanded its goals for open data. “We want to make information on government activities and decisions more open, comprehensive, timely, and freely available to the public. This is one step toward an open government model where we are more accountable and responsive to citizens,” says Oscar Sovani, Regione Lombardia’s Leader of Digital Agenda.
Finding the Right Solution
As is the case with many Socrata customers, Lombardia quickly saw the opportunity to use open data to influence and direct performance measurement. “We didn’t look at any other solutions,” says Daniele Crespi, Innovative Services and eID Development Manager at Lombardia Informatica S. p. A. “We were already using the Socrata Open Data Portal™ on the Socrata platform and found that solution so powerful and easy to use that we didn’t need to look elsewhere for a way to manage and measure our performance.”
Healthy Return On Investment
Because Socrata’s platform is a turnkey solution, Lombardia was able to move quickly with its launch, without having to hire new internal resources, which saved both time and money. “Socrata’s level of service allowed us to start quickly, much faster than building our own platform internally or using an open source option where we do a lot of set up and maintenance work ourselves,” Crespi explains. “Compared to the costs of building this ourselves and increasing our internal IT infrastructure, we found the monthly cost of Socrata to be the best option for our needs.”
Like many other government organizations, Lombardia has limited resources. “Most of the IT activity we do is done by external people,” says Crespi. Those outside resources can add up over time. Smart governments focus internal resources on higher utility activities. Lombardia is one such smart government. By adopting the Socrata’s platform to power its open data and performance initiatives, Lombardia was able to reassign some of its limited resources to focus on other initiatives that couldn’t be solved through a smart technology platform. “We calculated that the use of Socrata has allowed us to save more than 47 hours per month in updating the data. Before, we had to update data manually, which took quite a bit of time. Now, we use a publishing API, which means data updates automatically,” says Crespi. “Metadata updates as often as every 12 hours.” Crespi plans to increase the number of datasets updated automatically. “By updating the number of datasets and the frequency at which they update, our time savings will increase exponentially,” he finishes.<?p>
Powerful, Easy-to-Use Visualizations
Crespi appreciates the visualization tools offered by Socrata’s platform. “The charting and mapping features make it possible to even more visually and easily communicate our data to the people. These two features are unique to the Socrata solution and, if we had to outsource this capability, it would cost us a significant amount of money,” Crespi explains.
The Right and Proven Choice
When researching technology options to support Lombardia’s open data and performance initiatives, Crespi realized the one local solution available could not address all of Lombardia’s requirements. “When we found Socrata, we realized it had so many features we needed. It was the most powerful, especially compared to the capabilities of the other local solution,” Crespi says. Even more, Crespi appreciated the range of customers served by Socrata, saying, “It was important to us that Socrata had a lot of larger and influential customers. This gave us the assurance that Socrata was the right solution. We determined that if many U.S. cities, like New York City, trusted Socrata, then Lombardia could, also.”
Still, why didn’t Lombardia build its own solution? “The idea of building a platform from scratch was not considered at all,” says Crespi, continuing, “It would cost a lot of money and take at least a year.” When given the choice between the local solution available or Socrata, Crespi says the decision was simple. “We considered time to market one of the important drivers of our choice to adopt the Socrata platform. We wanted to start quickly and Socrata’s turnkey solution allowed us to do so.”
Lower Total Cost of Ownership
Utilizing the combination of Microsoft Windows Azure hosting platform and Socrata’s open data and performance platform, Lombardia was able to optimize the publishing of data and lower cost. “If you want to reduce the weekly, or even daily, cost of people loading data and refreshing data, you have to put in place the right processes and underlying technology to support those processes. When we migrated to Windows Azure, Socrata’s Open Data API (SODA) became an important tool because it allowed us to automate and manage a daily refresh of many of our datasets that were needed to support our open data and performance initiative,” Crespi says.