Good data fuels successful apps

App developers have one shot with app users to get them to keep an app on their phone, when the user downloads the app and takes it for a test drive. The app either returns the results users are looking for and provides something useful, or it gets deleted. If the query returns nonsense, or something that does not speak to them, they delete it and never look back.

Tech-savvy consumers may subconsciously gauge the tech caliber of a city by the maturity of the apps available to them in that city. Uber, AirBnB, Yelp, GrubHub, PostMates, Waze and Dabble are all apps that could only be found in major cities. At least, in the early days of their conception. Similarly, cities with public transportation riders know the value of having strong developers in their communities. That value is gained from their public transit app and its estimation of train arrival times. Both scenarios rely on the availability of machine-readable, publicly available data. Also, the strength of cohorts in the developer community who can turn that data into useful insights for the public.

Data providers can influence economic development with data

The availability of apps and features that tourists and citizens use to navigate a city make a strong impression. The functionality of these apps is only as strong as their weakest data point. Cities, counties and states all manage different data. In turn, they have different ways to impact experience and quality of life. They open their data to the public in bulk machine-readable format. Data is the raw material precious metal of our digital age. The availability of apps is a direct reflection on the availability of open data for the city. Government officials cannot dictate the development of private industry. However, they can work to create an environment where the inputs to the system are easily accessible.

Go Code Colorado positively impacts the business community by providing data

Go Code Colorado is one of two programs running in tandem under the Business Intelligence Center in the Secretary of State’s office. Contractors fulfill key tasks for the program’s success. On one hand, Xentity Corporation has worked for the past three years with government agencies to populate the State’s open data portal,, with quality datasets. On the other, Ladycoders Productions has worked statewide, propagating a developer community oriented to building businesses around the use of public data is their goal.

Go Code Colorado transforms data into apps

The formula is simple – competing teams have 2 months of planning, 1 intense competition weekend. Then, 10 finalist teams who advance to 1 intense incubation weekend architected by the SOS office tapping the local community. It all leads up to 3 $25,000 winners on the path to starting a business around their app. An app built around public data.

Go Code Colorado and the Evolution of the Data Liaison

Data is always in beta. There is a tremendous effort in refining to make it useful. The most realistic path to this goal is to socialize the effort. Data as public wealth is almost always considered a secondary use of that data, as the government agency collects the data as a primary user for a specific purpose. These data however often have additional applications for secondary users to solve problems and create useful insights.

Go Code Colorado Data Team focused on their role as “data liaison” to help users understand what only data providers know about data and capture the feedback from the Go Code Colorado competitors. This enables public data sets with thoroughly vetted metadata delivered in a well designed User Experience (UX). Government data stewards and secondary end users of data often live in very different worlds, without common language or context for each other’s needs and desires. Having staff that are positioned between the two worlds, that also know enough about each party’s needs and desires, is critical to bridging the gap. Bridging the gap is critical to truly enabling the crowdsourcing of taking public data and creating useful applications and insights.

Go Code Colorado 2016 Winning Apps

Year Three of Go Code Colorado brought this vision into focus. The quality of the data and the caliber of the final pitch presentations best reflect this. The following descriptions highlight how data can be transformed into applications that directly benefit the citizen experience, and how their relationship with their data providers enhances the functionality of their product.

#1 – Foodcaster /Datacats

Foodcaster helps food trucks find the best location to park by informing food truck owners of parking regulations, foot traffic, and other beneficial tips through its mobile app such as local events and activity. They used state data sets for bicycle and pedestrian foot traffic and cellular service data, and combined this data with parking regulations data, Google Maps, Twitter social data and Facebook events. Examples of beneficial regional data include Denver Regional Council of Government’s (DRCOG) Zoning and Planimetrics datasets.


About the Data

Bicycles and pedestrian count data is useful because Food Trucks need to know where there are people concentrated in public spaces. The dataset available on CIM currently shows a slice of time in Colorado. However, CDOT plans on releasing it daily in the near future. Foodcaster also uses cellular coverage because the vendors need to use their mobile merchant systems (Square, etc) and aligns with more places that food truck consumers are likely to gather, a feature that is especially relevant to mountain communities and festival sites. This app does excellent work integrating multiple datasets to add value by also incorporating Non-CIM data from Facebook, Google and Twitter. Foodcaster is taking advantage of regional data to strengthen their app in metro areas.

In Denver they use parking data from the city and two datasets from DRCOG. Zoning provides the app with weights for areas that are generally low-target areas like residential, and high-target areas like commercial and industrial. It can also highlight areas that are eligible for festivals and other seasonal activities. Planimetrics are highly detailed footprints of city infrastructure. Infrastructure, such as sidewalks, curb cuts/driveways, Edge of Pavement Lines, parking lot boundaries and Building Footprints. All of which can give an advantage to understanding which sites can physically accommodate temporary parking of oversize vehicles near buildings.

#2 – Regulation Explorer /Energy Tech

Regulation Explorer helps oil & gas companies find the best locations by putting Colorado oil & gas regulations “on the map” in combination with environmentally and culturally sensitive areas. They streamline the permit process for energy companies. They also provide these companies with all of their options before they invest heavily in a well location. Examples of some of their state datasets included Community Anchor Institutions and Roads, Parks and Community data. County data includes parcels and other land management datasets, and also from Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). Examples of beneficial regional data from Denver Regional Council of Government’s (DRCOG) includes Zoning, Planimetrics and Aerial Imagery datasets in addition to  Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities. The Bureau of Land Management incorporates federal datasets.

About the Data

This app integrates multiple types and sources of data to provide the Oil and Gas Customer with all of the information needed to understand their potential investment – this includes ‘sub-surface’ and ‘surface’ earth datasets, as well as some cultural and demographic datasets. Parcel, zoning and BLM data all shed light on what governing bodies regulate different segments of land. Planimetrics and Aerial Imagery provide a model and snapshot of what the segments of land look like. They also build upon them and which ones are likely to be ecologically sensitive. Planimetrics include highly detailed and current look at pavement, rivers, trails, water bodies and buildings. Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities, in addition to all of the Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs), provide a view of the culturally valuable segments of land. CAIs include large public gathering spaces like schools, gymnasiums, arenas, fire-barns, airport buildings, etc.

And This Means…

To repeat the obvious, data is a required asset for any business and agency. That is why we at Xentity choose to devote our attention to the ‘information’ in ‘information technology’. Apps have been all the rage for years, and the most successful ones use data properly. So, it stands to reason that good data could very well fuel other successful technologies. We want to make sure your technology is a success through good data.