Public Sector’s Technology Leaders Are Moving Away From Legacy Systems and Toward New Data-Driven Digital Government

August 13, 2015 2:00 am PST
  • Socrata’s Survey of Over 500 Technology Leaders in Cities, Counties, States and the Federal Government Reveals That More Citizen-Friendly Digital Solutions Are Favored

Seattle – August 13, 2015 – Socrata (, the global leader in software solutions designed exclusively for data-driven digital government, today announced the results of a new research survey conducted among more than 500 technology leaders at the city, county, state and Federal levels.

Deploying Tomorrow’s Technology Today – available for download at – developed for Socrata by EMC Research, makes it clear that governments of all sizes are moving away from their legacy technology in favor of more citizen-friendly digital solutions as a way of preparing for an anticipated data onslaught between 2015 and 2020.

Among the key findings of the survey:

  • The vast majority (79%) of respondents’ software is mostly (40%) or entirely (39%) on local machines; this represents a major opportunity for digital growth.
  • There is opportunity for cloud-based technology at just about all levels of government, but the largest opportunity lies at the county level; 47% of all technology at the country level is almost entirely installed on local machines or on local or internal networks.
  • Three quarters (75%) of those with technology decision-making power are open to their software being based in the cloud, with 55% who definitively said they want their software to be based in the cloud
  • Virtually all say (83%) that it is important to have programs and software that are simple and user-friendly, with almost one third saying it is critically important.

"The enterprise database has an important role in government,” explains Kevin Merritt, Founder and CEO of Socrata. “It's very good at transactional data processing, which is why technology decision-makers in the public sector bought it in the first place, and why their line-of-business system still relies on it. Unfortunately, as government data access needs grew over time — with reports, analysis, information products and external stakeholders, for example — database vendors sold the public sector more of these expensive, complicated transactional databases to access government’s own data.

But the best way to access government’s data is in a system designed for engagement — like Socrata’s. We designed our system to be simple and intuitive for consumers — the users of government data — both externally and internally. We built it with modern, Internet-era technology, deployed in the cloud, entirely managed for governments at a fraction of the cost of legacy, on-premise technology. We can help government shrink the footprint of its legacy database technology; and, with the cost savings from our system, we can also help the public sector fund a much better and more modern way to utilize its data."

Adds Robert Runge, a member of the Board of Directors at Socrata: “The public sector is being forced to do more with less today, and it’s obvious to technology decision-makers in government that they have to be in the cloud to manage their data efficiently and cost-effectively, and to take advantage of all the other technologically advanced companies in the world. That’s why governments are starting to mobilize their data management — so they can mobilize for the future. This is all about getting ready for 2020.”

“The results of this survey clearly show there is significant opportunity for cloud-based software and technology at every level of government,” says Ian Stewart, Principal at EMC Research. “Moving from legacy technology to simple, user-friendly digital cloud solutions is critically important to the public sector keeping pace with the people they serve.”

A recent analysis from Gartner – Legacy technologies burden government CIOs – reinforces this point.

“The burden of legacy technologies in government puts innovation on a path of incremental improvement when agility and quick solution delivery is expected,” explains Rick Howard, Research Director at Gartner in the analysis. “To demonstrate ‘digital now, digital first’ leadership in government, CIOs must flip their approach to managing IT from the inside-out perspective of legacy constraints to the outside-in view of citizen experience. It’s all about starting with the digital world and what is possible – thinking cloud, mobile and situational context first – and then considering, ‘How do we get there from here?’ using information and technology.”

This approach is gaining currency among technology leaders in the public sector.

"Government has a reputation of lagging commercial industry in terms of technology,” says Michael Mattmiller, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Seattle. “And the public sector also has unique challenges in developing and maintaining systems to serve a diverse set of stakeholders. But we need to overcome these challenges and deliver solutions worthy of the innovative communities we serve. One of the main ways we can change this perception is by developing and deploying consumer-friendly digital solutions that mirror what established and cutting-edge companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft are doing."

Adds Bob Micielli, Technology Director for King County, Washington: “The way our citizens and workforce access data has changed significantly in the past decade, so we need to leverage technologies that complement these new modalities. Our county is taking a cloud-first approach as a way to leapfrog legacy technologies. With the maturity of cloud services providers like Socrata and AWS, we have never been more enabled to modernize our infrastructure with highly available, scalable and secure solutions that set our government and its citizens for the future.”

And, finally, from Beth Niblock, CIO of Detroit: “When making decisions about what software and technology we’re going to use, I have to think about what is going to be nimble and sustainable. It’s not about just catching up to the technology of today, it’s about having a foundation to support the data and technology of tomorrow.”

Unfortunately, however, many public sector CIOs are financially chained to the past. In a recent study commissioned by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and Infosys Public Services, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Infosys, nearly half (45%) of the state CIOs surveyed indicated that they are spending more than 80 percent of their budgets maintaining existing systems. As a result, they are having trouble freeing up funds to invest in innovative digital solutions.

About Socrata

Socrata is the global leader in software solutions that are designed exclusively for digital government, delivering unprecedented data-driven innovation and cost savings for hundreds of public sector leaders and millions of their constituents around the world.

The company’s customers include the cities of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Melbourne and Eindhoven; the states of New York, Illinois and Texas; US Health and Human Services; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; the UN, the European Commission, and the World Bank.

Built on an affordable, cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, Built on an affordable, cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, the Data-as-a-Utility™ platform is complemented by the Socrata Open Data Network and professionally supported by the Socrata Partner Ecosystem.

Socrata equips governments and NGOs of every size so they can rapidly transform outdated and expensive data access models, Web sites and legacy applications into intuitive, visually rich, intelligent consumer-grade apps and user experiences that can now be enriched and sustained by real-time government data, perhaps the most economically powerful public asset in history.

Socrata’s digital government solutions are being deployed for a wide array of strategic and mission-critical government services: enhancing quality of life through constituent empowerment; achieving operational excellence through fact-based, data-driven decision support; stimulating economic impact and opportunity by transforming open government data into the world’s most valuable, self-replenishing natural resource; and promoting unique intra and intergovernmental cooperation and collaboration by breaking down silos and dramatically reducing access barriers. To learn more about Socrata, visit

For more information about Socrata’s “Deploying Tomorrow’s Technology Today” survey, contact:

Liisa O’Neill
Sr. Marketing Communications Manager
(206) 669-6914