Socrata Launches Data-as-a-Utility™ Cloud Platform For 21st Century Digital Government

June 9, 2015 10:00 am PST
  • Open Data Leader Now Enabling Governments to Unleash a New Generation of Data-Driven Services Focused on Quality of Life, Economic Impact and Operational Excellence

Seattle – June 9, 2015 – Socrata (socrata.com) – the global leader in software solutions designed exclusively for data-driven digital government, today announced the release of its revolutionary Data-as-a-Utility™ (DaaU) platform.

Designed in collaboration with hundreds of leading public sector customers around the world, the Socrata Data-as-a-Utility platform combines breakthrough software inventions with deep public sector expertise and proven methodology to empower governments around the world to capitalize on the tremendous power of government data for a new generation of digital projects, programs and services.

"Socrata’s new Data-as-a-Utility™ platform creates a vast array of exciting new opportunities for governments to channel their abundant and expanding data resources into meaningful new programs and services,” explains Kevin Merritt, the company’s founder and CEO. “Our customers all over the world - city, county, state, and national government agencies and departments across virtually every functional area are rapidly mobilizing for the new paradigm of digital government, where data-driven services provide instant and consumer-friendly access to vital government information on the digital devices and in the digital language and formats relevant to 21st century life - rich, interactive applications and user interfaces that use text, graphics, maps and visualizations - to inform the daily decisions of government employees and their diverse constituencies and delivering dramatically improved outcomes in quality of life, economic impact, and operational excellence.”

Watch the Data-as-a-Utility video

The Socrata Data-as-a-Utility™ platform is a comprehensive, cloud-based, software-as-a-service product suite consisting of the essential tools and components for capturing, organizing, storing, curating, delivering and presenting government data of all types - open, closed, public, and private - in the format and user experience most relevant to target constituencies and stakeholders, from external citizens and communities of interest to internal employees, advocacy groups, media and content producers, professional developers, scientists, and statisticians.

The New Normal is Consumer-Friendly and Data-Driven

Among its numerous technical breakthroughs in cloud software capabilities, a guiding and primary design goal for the platform was consumer-friendly usability, since governments everywhere have recognized that a new digital-age “normal” has emerged, thanks to the unprecedented onslaught of bold new ideas and disruptive technologies from innovative companies like Apple, Amazon, Twitter, Google, Facebook, Uber, Coursera and airbnb—to name just a few.

In addition, the design of the new platform was informed by the demands of government customers around the world to harness government data as the underlying fuel for 21st century digital government.

Indeed, at its heart, the public sector’s current mission-critical “digital first” efforts are based on the irrefutable evidence that data is a powerful strategic asset and a critical new natural resource that will accelerate informed decision-making to maximize the impact of government’s limited resources, create a robust, digital environment to drive job creation and business growth, and deliver new government impact on sustainable prosperity and well-being for communities and citizens.

Data is The New Public Utility

“The age of Data-as-a-Utility has arrived in the public sector, and it’s the long-awaited synthesis of a wide variety of government data programs and services, including open data, Big Data, and internal data sharing,” says Merritt.“ In past generations, governments have created national infrastructures for water, electricity, transportation and the telecom spectrum into utilities, and now it’s happening with data. Going forward, you can expect to see governments of all sizes using this digital raw material to create economic prosperity for the people they serve, to create new opportunities academically for children, to create safer, more livable cities – and to create a better quality of life for everybody.”

“Harnessing Data-as-a-Utility is unquestionably one of the biggest opportunities that the public sector has ever had,” explains Robert Runge, a member of Socrata’s Board of Directors. “This is an irreversible global shift, and Socrata is leading through collaboration with innovative customers and partners. These services put public data to work in order to address big government issues such as the environment, public safety, health care, transparency and fiscal accountability."

Adds Stephen Goldsmith – a member of Socrata’s Advisory Board and professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government – who formerly served as Mayor of Indianapolis and Deputy Mayor of New York City for Operations:

“Data-as-a-Utility is a necessity for the public sector today because 20th century analog government is unsustainable in 21st century digital societies, and the personal and institutional downsides of falling behind the curve in the shift to digital government are immense. The new drive to digitize says that digital infrastructure is now just as important as the physical infrastructure of government. It also says that citizen services and interactions are increasingly about the flow of digital information and transactions. And, finally, it’s part of a related public sector move toward data-driven digital solutions, whether it’s body cameras for police or online health care insurance.”

Creating a Breakthrough Platform With Customers as Design Partners

Socrata’s new Data-as-a-Utility™ platform is designed for wide industry adoption, including professional software developers and systems integrators who are working on public sector projects. Demanding government and NGO technical and business professionals – as well as members of Socrata’s extensive partner network – served as design partners for the new platform, which defines the next frontier of advanced technology for data-driven digital government:

  • New Data Consumption Paradigm – Socrata is helping governments make the shift from a data-centric citizen interaction to a dramatically more accessible and ultimately impactful information-centric experience. To do this at scale, Socrata is pioneering the use of machine-learning models to automatically profile and surface data in a rich visual context. As a result, for the first time, citizens, community advocates, developers, and government employees will be completely empowered to answer their questions, find what they care about, and see new insights, all in self-service mode.
  • Digital Content Transformation – Socrata is empowering governments of all sizes to industrialize the data-to-information pipeline with automation of digital content creation and revolutionary drag-and-drop curation tools that reduce typical workloads from days to minutes. In fact, entire classes of custom legacy apps can now be retired and replaced with more modern, responsive and auto-generated web and database interfaces that are built for mass consumption on any device. The era of multi-year, multi-million dollar custom projects to connect databases to the web is effectively over.
  • Ecosystem Enablement At Scale – Socrata, in partnership with the leading technology and internet companies of our time, is making it easier than ever for developers and mass commercial consumers of data to build powerful new applications and enhance their services using government data, creating the first-of-its-kind robust cloud platform that can scale to support the growing needs of the data economy. The platform transforms government data silos from monolithic, proprietary and license-ridden systems to open, universally accessible and license-free sources of real-time data. This frictionless flow of data is delivered through powerful self-documenting APIs for query, search, and semantic annotations to give developer communities and commercial third parties unobstructed access to rich, high-quality data when, how, and where they want it.
  • Geographic Context By Default – Socrata has engineered a breakthrough innovation that is fundamentally changing how government data intersects people’s lives based on where they live, where they work, and everywhere in between. Citizens and businesses can see the information they care about through a hyper local lens like their neighborhood, school district, or council district, making the information directly meaningful and relevant to them. This pervasive spatial context is also blurring the lines between federal, state and local boundaries to surface information based on the user’s location, instead of its originating jurisdiction.
  • Data Science As a Service – Socrata is providing governments with the fastest, most affordable on-ramp to applied data science, based on shared-services model. Socrata’s offerings are uniquely tailored for government needs, rather than those of big banks, telcos and retailers, by virtue of the open, collaborative and mission-oriented focus. The design of the data-as-a-utility platform is also shaped by the tension between rising citizen expectations and resource scarcity. This has led to a unique approach that combines high-performance requirements for mission-critical systems, with automatic classification of data based on common patterns across governments, and government-specific machine-learning models, in order to understand the semantics of government data, at scale, and facilitate big data analytics across jurisdictions.  

Developing Digital Government Solutions Exclusively for the Public Sector

One of the main reasons that governments are embracing new digital and data-driven tools, like Socrata’s Data-as-a-Utility™ platform, is because these technology solutions are being developed exclusively for public sector data; they aren’t part of cumbersome, expensive and retrofitted corporate systems, which, in the past, have failed to serve government’s specific needs in an effective or efficient way.  

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. “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.”

Upgrading and Expanding Socrata’s Suite of Financial Transparency Applications

In addition to announcing the new Data-as-a-Utility platform, Socrata is also releasing new products and capabilities in its industry-leading suite of turnkey financial transparency applications.

This integrated suite will feature a revamped Open Budget™ app, which has been visually refreshed and can now display revenues and the actual outcome of the budget versus its projections. The inclusion of revenue information means that viewers can now see the government monies coming in from property taxes, Federal transfers, state grants, and even parking tickets.

Socrata will also add an Open Payroll™ application to the Financial Transparency suite. Open Payroll illustrates a government’s top earners, median salary, overtime hot spots, and more, in a simple interface.

“The Los Angeles Controller's office is proud to have been a design partner on Socrata's new Open Payroll application,” says Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin, who launched the ControlPanel.LA open data portal in October 2013 (Click here to watch a video of the Controller). “Open Payroll gives managers, policymakers and the public the ability to get both holistic and specific insight into their City’s payroll.”

"Posting payroll data is just the first step," adds Galperin. "Open Payroll also provides analytical insight to policymakers as we make Open Data part of our operations and truly rethink the way that we manage public funds."

Assisting Governments as They Enrich the Digital Experience For Their Constituents

“Our constituents have been using digital products and services from companies like Apple, Google, Twitter and Amazon for a number of years, and so we need to make sure our technology looks, feels and performs like that,” explains Abhi Nemani, Chief Data Officer for the City of Los Angeles (Click here to watch a video on Los Angeles’ use of Datalens). “That’s why we’ve adopted Socrata’s Data-as-a-Utility™ platform. If you’re going to become a data-driven government in the 21st century, you can’t ignore your users or their digital experience if you really want to be effective and succeed.”

Adds Tyler Kleykamp, the Chief Data Officer for the State of Connecticut: “We want our data to be accessible not only to researchers and developers, but also to anyone looking to answer a simple question or gain insight into state government. We believe this new experience will allow us to turn government data into easily approachable and consumable information that helps educate people and improve the quality of their lives.”

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, Bristol (UK) and Eindhoven (NL); the states of New York, Illinois and Texas; US Health and Human Services; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; The US Department of the Treasury, the UN, the European Commission, and the World Bank.

Built on an affordable, cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, the integrated Socrata Digital Government Cloud 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 socrata.com.

Contact

Liisa O’Neill
Sr. Marketing Communications Manager
liisa.oneill@socrata.com
(206) 669-6914