Go Code Colorado Open Data Effort is going into its final weeks

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States all-around have gotten into Open Data movements. Colorado has as well, and their recent Go Code Colorado effort is a very unique entry into this foray ( http://gocode.colorado.gov/)

Go Code Colorado was created to help Colorado companies grow, by giving them better and more usable access to public data. Teams will compete to build business apps, creating tools that Colorado businesses actually need, making our economy stronger.

 

The following is a great video that summarizes the event as produced by the State and one of Xentity’s colleagues, Engine7 Media.



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Xentity is very proud to be supporting this innovative Government Solution

Xentity was awarded IT consulting support for the the Business Intelligence Center platform and data catalog which supports the now branded Go Code Colorado initiative. Xentity’s consultants have provided the data and technology resources to manage and advise the publication of public sector data to the Colorado Information Marketplace and to provide technical support developers who participate in the Challenge. 

Xentity primarily has provided data platform support. We have provided data readiness analysis, data architecture guidance, project management, and the data analysts to “wrangle” the data (aka ETL) to get the datasets onto the platform. We also have provided the IT and data support on-site at the multiple locations and events to assure the challenge participants and finalists are getting the support they need to be successful in accessing and using the data and services. Finally, we are supporting the technical review of applications to assure these applications can have a life beyond the “hackathon” stage.

The final stages are coming the first 10 days of May. The 10 finalists have proven to demonstrate very viable solutions to achieve the goal of helping make our economy stronger. 

Some more background and detail on how we got here

(The following is from the State as guidance to this effort)

 

Colorado government agencies possess large volumes of public business and economic data. This data can help businesses with strategic planning, but it exists in so many different places and formats making it difficult for that most businesses to use it. The Secretary of State’s office will address this problem through the creation of the Business Intelligence Center (BIC). BIC seeks to aggregate and analyze data available to the business community.

This effort is led by the Colorado Secretary of State. The Secretary of State’s office interacts with hundreds of thousands of business entities, charities, and nonprofits in the state. The Secretary of State’s office collects, manages, and disseminates large amounts of basic data about those organizations and wanted to make the data useful to Colorado businesses. 

The Department sought to make this data more useful and collaborated with the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado to publish the Quarterly Business and Economic Indicator Report. This report combines Department data with other economic data collected by he Leeds School to provide meaningful economic information to the business community. For instance, new business filings are a leading indicator of job creation. With this and other information provided in the report, the business community can make smarter decisions that will grow the Colorado economy.

Since first publishing the report in 2012, the Secretary of State received comments from many members of the business community asking to see more detailed data regarding economic trends 
in order to better understand the distribution of commerce in Colorado. This includes access to the location, size, vibrancy, and concentration of key business nodes. While this level of detail would be tremendously helpful, the Department cannot provide the information because multiple state agencies collect the desired data and it is not readily available in a common place  or even a common format.

A central data collection point is needed. During meetings with other government agencies, Department staff concluded that these data requests could be met by aggregating all the information spread throughout various agencies and databases into a single tool by breaking down agency silos and better cataloging existing resources. Department staff also concluded that access and availability to the data is not enough. In order to make the raw data useful to the vast majority of business owners, data analysis and visualization tools are needed. These conclusions led to the Business Intelligence Center project.

The Business Intelligence Center consists of a centralized data catalog that combines public data into a meaningful tool for businesses. 

The vision for this project is two-fold. First, it consolidates public data relevant to businesses on a single platform. Second, it gives business the tools to make the data useful. The second goal is 
achieved through a civic apps challenge—the Colorado Business Innovation Challenge—that will give financial incentives to the technology community to build web and mobile applications that use state and other data to solve existing business challenges.

The data platform is akin to an information clearing house. It will make data sources currently dispersed over multiple government departments and agencies accessible in a common location. 
This platform will offer Colorado businesses unprecedented access to public data that is validated and relevant to short and long-term needs. Besides enhancing businesses’ access to state data, the BIC will also contribute to economic growth. The creation of the BIC will make data available to all Colorado businesses at no additional cost. Currently only large entities with the time, staff, and budget to engage in detailed statistical analysis can use these data sets. Providing this data to every type and size business in Colorado provides a unique opportunity to contribute to economic development. The BIC will nurture key industry networks and lay the foundation for a digital infrastructure that will continue to expand and improve over time.

The Colorado Business Innovation Challenge is an innovative way to create solutions and ensure the BIC is useful to Colorado businesses.

Simply making the data available is insufficient to most business owners. To truly help the vast majority of businesses—especially small businesses—tools must be developed to present the data in a useful and consumable form. Normally government agencies develop tools to fill this information vacuum, but historically the government has not been successful developing highly useful and effective tools. A new approach is needed—that approach is the Colorado Business Innovation Challenge.

Modeled after a “civ apps” challenge that has been run in multiple cities across the United States and internationally, the Challenge presents the software development community with problem 
questions and then asks that community to create possible solutions. At the end of the challenge, the Secretary of State will license the most innovative and implementable web or mobile application. The best design will receive a contract with the Secretary of State to make the application available to the public on the Business Intelligence Center platform. The Department will also pursue partnerships with the Colorado technology and startup industry to provide additional incentives, such as mentoring, hosting, and office space to the Challenge winners. The long-term intent of the program is to not only create an environment for fostering community involvement through the Challenge, but to develop sustainable tools that are  developed in the Challenge.

GAO 4th annual report cites Enterprise Architecture, Geospatial, and Coordinating Research among ways to help reduce duplication – fragmentation – overlap

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GAO relased its 2014 Annual Report identified 11 new areas of fragmentation, overlap, and duplication in federal programs and activities. GAO also identified 15 new opportunities for cost savings and revenue enhancement. Related work and GAO’s Action Tracker—a tool that tracks progress on GAO’s specific suggestions for improvement.

The social services clearly are under the highest scrutiny as heritage.org notes:

In the previous three reports, the GAO found that Congress spent:

GAO summarizes their highlights as:

In its 2014 report, GAO presents 64 actions that the executive branch or Congress could take to improve efficiency and effectiveness across 26 areas that span a broad range of government missions and functions.
  • GAO suggests 19 actions to address evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in 11 new areas across the government missions of defense, health, income security, information technology, and international affairs.
  • GAO also presents 45 opportunities for executive branch agencies or Congress to take actions to reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury across 15 areas of government.

One blog took a fairly direct, yet appropriate view to this – “Why Have One Government Program When 10 Can Do the Same Thing? GAO Report Reveals Duplicated Efforts, Wasted Money.

Because, as the GAO points out, “the federal government faces an unsustainable fiscal path,” and getting out of its own way is one of the easier means of cutting costs.

They do point out a sort of ray of hope in that :

After taking a grand tour of federal government multiplicity, the GAO recommends 45 actions for cutting costs. Don’t get your hopes too high, though. Of the 380 reforms previously recommended, only 124 have been fully addressed.

I say ray of hope as about 1/3 improvement is actually, possibly sadly, not bad for the largest organization in the world. Beyond 1/3, who can or will use this? This is a fantastic guiding light, but for who? Clearly it is for congress, executive branch politicals, and Program Directors, but will they be interested to act? Does it fit with their agendas and objectives? Who has influence to more than suggest it should be part of such?

 

Topics we’ll be tracking

But more in our neck of the woods, where we look to help, and how we analyzed, here are some mission take-ways:

  • Renewable Energy programs are VERY fragmented, though not uncommon for organization all trying to get a service or solution piece of a new up and coming and relevant disruption. Specifically, they cite more coordination between USDA and DOE

Area 4: Renewable Energy Initiatives: Federal support for wind and solar energy,
biofuels, and other renewable energy sources, which has been estimated at several
billion dollars per year, is fragmented because 23 agencies implemented hundreds of
renewable energy initiatives in fiscal year 2010—the latest year for which GAO
developed these original data. Further, the DOE and USDA could take additional
actions—to the extent possible within their statutory authority—to help ensure effective
use of financial support from several wind initiatives, which GAO found provided
duplicative support that may not have been needed in all cases for projects to be built

  • In the 2011 reports under General Government, Enterprise Architecture and Data Center Consolidation were high on the list (Page 24):

Area 14: Enterprise architectures: key mechanisms for identifying potential overlap
and duplication. Well-defined and implemented enterprise architectures in federal agencies can lead to consolidation and reuse of shared services and elimination of antiquated and redundant mission operations, which can result in significant cost savings. For example, the Department of the Interior demonstrated that it had used enterprise architecture to modernize agency information technology operations and avoid costs through enterprise software license agreements and hardware procurement consolidation, resulting in financial savings of at least $80 million. In addition, Health and Human Services will achieve savings and cost avoidance of over $150 million between fiscal years 2011 to 2015 by leveraging its enterprise architecture to improve its telecommunications infrastructure.

Area 15: Consolidating federal data centers provides opportunity to improve
government efficiency. Consolidating federal data centers provides an opportunity to improve government efficiency and achieve cost savings of up to $3 billion over 10 years.

For what its worth, for some horn tooting, Xentity staff were providing support to the Interior Enterprise Architecture during the 2003-2005 period where DOI EA focused on the Enterprise license consolidation across all its bureaus to department-wide.

In 2012, GAO also added:

Area 19: Information Technology Investment Management: The Office of Management and Budget and the Departments Defense and Energy need to address potentially duplicative information technology investments to avoid investing in unnecessary systems.

For Geospatial Investment, it cites (Page 196) our general mantra on Geospatial Integrated Services and Capabilities :

Area 11: Geospatial Investments: Better coordination among federal agencies that collect, maintain, and use geospatial information could help reduce duplication of geospatial investments and provide the opportunity for potential savings of millions of dollar

This repeats its report concepts – mind you, at a higher level – on the GAO releases report on FGDC Role and Geospatial Information

Also, there was a trend to improve simplify Federal Contracting 

Finally, in talking about Research, they noted

Area 10: Dissemination of Technical Research Reports: Congress should consider whether the fee-based model under which the National Technical Information Service currently operates for disseminating technical information is still viable or appropriate, given that many of the reports overlap with similar information available from the issuing organizations or other sources for free.

There is so much more in this report, the question is, will the powers that be embrace these ideas as part of their program or political agendas and objectives?

 

State of Colorado IT highlighted in GovExec as example of Smart Lean Government

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Matt Tricomi

Xentity staff has been supporting Methodology Development with ACT-IAC on Smart Lean Government – http://smartleangovernment.com . A recent GovExec article has come out highlighting Smart Lean Government as well as the State of Colorado. 

Opening

In a data-driven world, agencies can’t afford to go it along any more. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, the response and recovery were considered a disaster for government. There was no clear chain of command.

Our efforts at Smart Lean Government is in trying to introduce cross-government management and design of services across communities, be life event-based, and find ways to integrate services in design and implementation.

You can see the print magazine version in PDF here or the web version.

Here specifically is the part on the State of Colorado Office of Information Technology point of view

Treating Citizens Like Customers in Colorado

As a private sector technology executive, Kristin Russell [note: recently outgoing CIO] watched companies become adept at tracking customers from one division to the next and learning everything they could about them along the way. 

When a warranty expired, a product was recalled or a superior product came out, they knew just who to contact. And they knew the best way to contact them. 

When Russell became Colorado’s chief information officer, she saw something different. State agencies weren’t competing with anyone, so they had little incentive to offer great customer service. 

This wasn’t just bad for citizens. It was costly for government too. One agency spent $4 million annually on postage. If citizens could opt for email-only contacts statewide, that figure could be reduced significantly, Russell says. 

Russell and Colorado’s Chief Technology Officer Sherri Hammons started planning for a governmentwide customer relations management system that could recognize citizens from one agency to the next, save their addresses and personal information, and alert them to services they might qualify for. 

An early version, called PEAK, offers a unified portal for medical, welfare and child support services and links to the state’s new online health insurance marketplace. Russell hopes to expand the PEAK concept across Colorado’s 22 agencies so citizens can interact with government once and be done. 

****

Xentity is excited to be supported both the SLG initiative and a service provider for the OIT in support of moving to IT in the state to a customer oriented set of services as part of the Xentity’s recent award of IT IDIQ from State of Colorado.

Exploring Public Domain Maps and Imagery – Historic Denver West

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edited by
Matt Tricomi

Doing some light examination of Denver West, the following is just two aspects of free public domain data. There is so much more beyond imagery and maps, and even more maps and more imagery (i.e. MODIS, LANDSAT, other NASA products).

Historic Maps

USGS Topo Map 1-meter Quads are clockwise:

(Download this KML file to see all options or click the years above the thumbnails below to grab that historic map)

Golden – Download – 1939194219441957

6 Diff dates for 15 Quads 1939-1965

Arvada – Download – 19411944195019571965

5 Diff dates for 12 Quads 1941-1965 

Morrison – Download – 19381942194719571965

5 Diff dates for 11 Quads 1938-1965 

Fort Logan – Download – 1941194819571965

4 Diff dates for 8 Quads 1939-1965 

Historic Imagery

Historic Imagery typeYearMetadataThumbnail (Actual Files range from 20-200 MB)
Digital Orthophoto Quadrangles (DOQs)1994
  • Entity ID: DI00000000912683
  • Acquisition Date: 23-SEP-94
  • Map Name: FORT LOGAN
  • State: CO

 

 

 
National Aerial Photography Program (NAPP)1988
  • Entity ID: NP0NAPP001033224
  • Coordinates: 39.8125 , -105.03125
  • Acquisition Date: 10-JUL-88
 
National High Altitude Photography (NHAP)1983
  • Coordinates: 39.671135 , -105.043794
  • Acquisition Date: 25-JUN-80
  • Scale: 120400

Download ~30MB file

 

Space Acquired Photography   

Single Frame Records

Black-and-white, natural color, and color

infrared aerial photographs

400 or 1,000 dpi.

1978
  • Entity ID: AR1VEQP00010142
  • Coordinates: 39.688989 , -105.053705
  • Acquisition Date: 01-SEP-78
  • Scale: 78000
Aerial Photo Mosaics (Used when creating early/mid-USGS Topo Maps)1953
  • Entity ID: ARDDA001260930776
  • Coordinates: 39.5 , -105.5
  • Acquisition Date: 25-SEP-53
  • Scale: 63299

Download the 30MB file

 

    
High Resolution OrthoImagery (Corrected – Generally .3 meter, color) 

2002 – HistoricOrthoCoverageAreas.kml

 

 
Declass 1 (1996) Stereo Images1965
  • Entity ID: DS1027-1015DA011
  • Coordinates: 39.69 , -104.516
  • Camera Resolution: Stereo Medium
  • Acquisition Date: 10-DEC-65
Declass 2 (2002) Stereo Images1966
  • Entity ID:DZB00403500080H001015
  • Coordinates: 42.49 , -103.45
  • Acquisition Date: 10-DEC-66
  • Camera Resolution: 2 to 4 feet

OK, I applied for a position – Now what

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If you are curious as to what is involved in our screening and interview process

…will I get a call back? when? do I call you? how long? how many interviews? how can I prepare?

OK, I applied, Now what?

Great, your resume has been logged, filed, and notifications have gone out to hiring decision makers. There are two types of job postings and three types of next steps

Looking for immediate Hire and you are screened as a fit!

Looking for Immediate Hire, but not contacted, what does that mean?

Posting says not immediate hire

We will start the resume screen immediately. Actually, hiring managers are notified immediately when you click submit.

We do receive a high volume of resumes, so we look for the best match of capability, skills, and presentation of your passion and of course availability.

If you are a fit, you will receive a call at times you noted.

If you are not a fit, you will not receive a call nor email until the position is filled.

Once a final decision has been made, the position will be closed, and you will receive an email to at least keep you posted on our decision.

We do have a capability for you to enter your email can check the status of the position if your are curious.

But, if we do not select you to move forward, we will keep your resume on file for future positions.

We will likely not contact you for anywhere from 30-120 days. Our goal for these type of job postings is to build a pool of strong candidates who are searching for new opportunities who may already have a job, but are looking for a career growth option and being selective in their search.

Keep in mind, on these positions, you can reach out to us, but be creative – we get lots of calls, emails, resume. So if you do that, think of a valuable mutual outcome that will differentiate yourself

Our interview approach will seek to learn five simple things to discover and attract great leaders of change:

  • Discover your passion for change and growth
  • Understand your leadership and management capabilities
  • Test your domain and subject matter skillset
  • Allow you the chance to get to know us your way
  • Derive a valuable compensation package

Through this our interview process, we believe we are finding good people.

  • Through our projects we attract, we believe we have great people. 
  • Through our compensation model, we retain amazing talent. 

Logistics

  • Upon applying, you may receive a phone call for a short logistics screening to discuss availability, validate your information, few high-level position questions
  • After that, if we proceed, you will be scheduled for an interview up to 2 hours to demonstrate and discuss previous deliverables, conduct and review technical exercise, and answer questions you may have
  • Sometimes for larger projects, we may ask your to participate in a group interview and luncheon where you perform a team exercise with other candidates and have a chance to interact with Xentity Employees and Executives or potentially client executive interaction.
  • Finally, if we are ready to consider a job offer, a final interview and assumed signing session would occur up to one hour for a presentation of the role, career growth plan, final questions, and compensation package.

Depending on the number of position requirements, positions, candidates, and requisitions involved, this process can be long and may take anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months.

If you have passed the screening process, and would like to know more, you will be granted further access to the candidate intranet, and are encouraged to take additional time to review the mid-level process on How Xentity finds top talent