<-- Advertise here.

Socrata [socrata.com] features, next to a slick design, the hip trademarked slogan "Making Data Social", as it aims to make government data open to new audiences and constituencies. At the heart of this movement is the concept of open data, making raw government data readily accessible, in a form that maximizes comprehension, interactivity, participation, and sharing. At Socrata, they call this emerging phenomenon "social data discovery", as they offer a comprehensive set of online solutions for delivering social data discovery on government data sites.

Previously existing as the weblist-sharing portal Blist, Socrata tries to set itself apart from "Government Data Websites", which I guess currently mainly points to the recently launched data.gov, by some unique features, including more advanced online data viewing, a community discussion and social media platform, and an online API.

However, one should note Socrata is not free, as it offers "a wide variety of flexible pricing options designed to accommodate a range of needs". I guess this means the open data movement has finally opened up commercial opportunities, which promises more innovation and hopefully will lead to even more open data. However, it seems to also turn "open data" into "subscription-only data" and the open data movement into a business model, as data suppliers have the ability to set specific dataset pricing levels.

A good thing?

More at TechFlash. See also Subsidyscope and OECD eXplorer


Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies

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Right direction. Bad business. The whole reason data.gov emerged is to make this information hopefully as readable as googling the nearest drug store so everyone can benefit from it. Here come potential data nazis.

"a wide variety of flexible pricing options designed to accommodate a range of needs"

Meaning, some visualizations will be limited in data scope, comparison capability, and understanding potential. Why not just say we'll tell you the truth, but not the whole truth? We pay taxes already, shouldn't have to pay to see where our money is going.

Thu 04 Jun 2009 at 2:16 AM

I'm Kevin Merritt, the CEO of Socrata. First, thank you for your interest in what we're doing to help unlock taxpayer owned, public government data.

We just launched the site and it's clear that we need to do some work on the language in our pricing page. By flexible pricing options, we meant to say that we plan to offer data publishers many flexible pricing options. In the case of government data, the publisher is the government, which really means that it's you, me and all taxpayers. Whether it's data hosted on an agency site or on data.gov, the government is already paying to make that data available. Servers, CPU, power, bandwidth, hosting, etc. are all hidden costs paid by the government. The value proposition that Socrata offers is to save taxpayers significant amounts of money by delivering data much more cost effectively while improving the experience and fostering citizen participation. As a cloud based service provider, we can deliver data for a fraction of the cost relative to the government's current cost structure. It's a win/win/win - save taxpayer money, make data more accessible and stimulate civic participation and collaboration.


Thu 04 Jun 2009 at 4:53 AM

@Kevin: Are there any US government agencies currently paying customers of Socrata? Do they make their data also available on data.gov?

Thu 04 Jun 2009 at 9:44 PM

@James:Socrata's price model is much smarter than government's trying to create and staff there own data sharing sites. I'm referring to the ongoing labor costs, different skill sets, and benefits (including retirement) needed to program, host, protect and keep a data site upgraded. And you need redundancy in skills so the site can survive a loss in personnel. Socrata's model allows government to focus on sharing the data rather than the expensive infrastructure and the cost is far less than doing it themselves. Also there is nothing about socrata's hosting platform that charges the public for the data. I think you misunderstood. It saves the public money!
@infosthetics: check out data.medicare.gov
@Kevin: Keep up the good work. It's the right model. Good direction and good business.

Sun 14 Nov 2010 at 1:00 PM
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