States all around the country are into the Open Data movement. Colorado is one of those states, and their recent Go Code Colorado effort is a very unique entry into this foray (http://gocode.colorado.gov/).
Go Code Colorado started to help Colorado companies grow, by giving them better and more usable access to public data. Teams compete to build business apps, creating tools that Colorado businesses actually need, making our economy stronger.
Xentity Is Very Proud To Be Supporting This Innovative Government Solution
Xentity was awarded an IT consulting support contract for the the Business Intelligence Center (BIC) platform and data catalog. These support the now branded Go Code Colorado initiative. Xentity’s consultants have provided data and technology resources to manage and advise the publication of public sector data to the Colorado Information Marketplace.
Also, we have provided data platform support and technical support to developers who participate in the Challenge. We have also provided data readiness analysis, data architecture guidance, project management, and the data analysts. The purpose of this to “wrangle” the data (aka ETL) to get the data sets onto the data platform. Furthermore, we’ve provided IT and data support on-site at multiple locations and events in order. This assured that challenge participants and finalists were getting the support they need to be successful in accessing and using the data and services. Finally, we have supported the technical review of applications to so they can have a life beyond the “hackathon” stage. These final stages are coming during the first 10 days of May each year. From there, 10 finalists have demonstrated 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. However, 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. The office also wanted to make the data useful to Colorado businesses.
The Department sought to make this data more useful. So, they collaborated with the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado to publish the Quarterly Business and Economic Indicator Report. This report combined Department data with other economic data collected by the 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 to grow Colorado’s economy.
What Has Happened Since The Report
Since first publishing the report in 2012, the Secretary of State has received comments from many of the business community. They have asked to see more detailed data regarding economic trends to better understand the distribution of commerce in Colorado. This includes access to the location, size, vibrancy, and concentration of key business nodes. This level of detail would be tremendously helpful. Unfortunately, the Department cannot provide the information because multiple state agencies collect the desired data. Also, 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 actually be met. This would be done through 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 raw data useful to the majority of business owners, we require data analysis and visualization tools. These conclusions led to the Business Intelligence Center project.
The Business Intelligence Center (BIC) 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 known as the Colorado Business Innovation Challenge. This 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 offers Colorado businesses unprecedented access to public data. It validates the data and makes it 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 statistical analysis can use these data sets. Providing this data to every type of 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—we must develop tools to present the data in a useful and consumable form. Normally government agencies develop tools to fill this information vacuum. However, historically the government has not been successful developing highly useful and effective tools. We require a new approach, and 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.