Data Use: Go Code Colorado App Challenge – Transcription

Thank you. Going to multi-task here. Up next is Margaret Spyker, from Go Code Colorado, and five other organizations. Do you want to introduce?

Thank you, I’m one of the contractors here out of Golden, and I’m joined by Andrew Cole, one of my major contracts with Go Code Colorado, and also Tyer – we are still in the transitionary phase. Great, thank you. So Andrew is going to kick us off here.

Yes, good morning, my name is Andrew, and I’m employed in the Secretary of State’s office in Colorado. We run the business intelligence center, we make public data more easily accessible for business decision-making. So think open data for business. And we just set out to run our program, and I will get to the picture here in a minute. But I speak to different audiences, and I often say in between people who generate data and may not think it would be valuable for other reasons, and people on the outside who would love to get their hands on data and don’t understand why government doesn’t make it available to them. And so, when we first started out our program, we have an open-data platform here in Colorado, the Colorado information marketplace,, we did not have a lot of agencies using it, we have a vibrant start-up community, but they did not think that open data could be an asset, or if they did they were not asked to get added. So Margaret and I worked on behalf of our office, we publish data for all state agencies, and it takes on that resource question for agencies that are willing to publish. And we put it on Go Code Colorado. This is from the movie Field of Dreams, and the famous line, if you build it, they will come. I put it up as a reminder that, when I talk to government audiences, I say, just because you make the data public, people won’t use it. But, when I go to people who are end users of open data, I have to remind them just because government has made it public, they assume you are going to use it. So it is going to take some combination of the two. So when we started out, we published data year-round, and then we run an ad challenge, Go Code Colorado. And we don’t call it a hackathon, because it is bigger and more involved, if you are familiar with the hackathons. And this is a circle where government agencies are resources are sparse, they are sparse everywhere, especially in the public sector. If people are getting data in a public way, this is a meaningful way to do that. And smart and creative people on the outside, entrepreneurs in OSMs, use data to build business solutions. And, it is not just a one-time thing, it has to be an ongoing cycle. I say that because we in government collect data for a specific reason, often regulatory, compliance-related, process oriented. And this data has to get outside of our mind and our perspective, and with that, we need to get into all the other limitations, limitations on how the data is gathered, what the terms actually mean – you know, you would think that we spend a lot of time on metadata, and even getting field descriptions do not convey what a term may mean, and how we collect the data. So that needs to go out to the end users, and if you are using this, please let me know how you are using the data. If you are using public data, and you have never told the government agency that makes it public, please do so. This week, go back, sometimes it is hard to find who that is. And even if it is, I use this data, thank you, please do that. Or I use this data, and I wish I understood more about this, please do that, too. Sometimes the agencies are not receptive to that idea, but usually they are. There’s a champion in that agency in that government that took the time and energy and often capital to make data public, and what they would love more than nothing else to have someone from the outside say, I took your idea and I made something creative and new with it, because that helps. And so the challenge, like I said real quick, it is not a hackathon, it is a little bit R. We put out specific business problems, we do so around the state – Colorado is a good-sized state. We looked at a start-up weekend, where teams come together, pitch their ideas, we take the 10 best. We have an idea weekend in Boulder, a hotbed for the start-up in tech, they pitch their ideas and they get $10,000 each, for the three best ideas. And this is an app with the score from year one, and there are site selection tools. You get five categories in taxes, infrastructure, data, and regulation. And all of this data is public, some of this is private, which we think is great. And when you drill down, you are going to get, again, all their – you are looking at their – almost all of that is public, but the idea is the bakery owner is not going to know where to get all of that. So we took a couple developers to put that into a consumable format. And from last year’s conversation, regulation explorer. We putting oil and gas regulations on the map. Here in Colorado, we have the most stringent oil and gas regulations, almost all of it is based on physical location. They took data parcels, building footprints, child care and nursing facilities, and other attributes. And the goal was to better facilitate with a community, you know, what those regulations were, so that the oil and gas operators could operate, you know, more efficiently and better understand and make sure they are in compliance, and then within their community as well, the community could understand the make-up of their community. And so, a couple of examples, and then Margaret is going to talk about the successes of our programs.

Thanks, Andrew, we are headed into our 5th year, and we are measuring our progress and success by our participation. And we started looking, we had a lot of data that we were collecting about the teams and the data that they were using, and we put the program together and build our own program metrics. And because data is the key, data combination is the key to adding value and making maps, we have done a lot of work to try to do a wide variety of state data, and really give people the opportunity to do that data combination. And, of course, we do encourage them to incorporate our data as well. And here is a run-down, I’m the data person on the team here, so these are going to be the wordiest slides, of course, right? So we have done 202 datasets, we worked with 16 state agencies to get to these 202 datasets. And, sorry, so we are working to build a state taxonomy of datasets that are relevant to solving business problems. So we go through a big, arduous process of data sleuthing, trying to find the data that is available, build a provile on data sets until we can get a meeting with the agency themselves, and then we can move with potential or possible datasets to identified datasets we are pursuing. And then we go through a ranking process to figure out which ones we think are going to be the most relevant. Again, as Andrew said, it is about doing the most you can with limited resources in government. So, from that process, we have done a good job of building variety over time. And, uh, we will see if the census pops up a couple times on here. We know that demographic data is used a lot for businesses. So just making that really accessible, and having a subset to different geographic slices is something we do for our competitors to save time, and really curating our datasets is what we are really about. Like Andrew said, we have good metadata so they understand it, being the data liaison so they have a point of contact to talk to, and then also making sure that that is machine readable. And we talked yesterday about how can we, you know, really facilitate and update the maintenance, in the long-run, of government data in OSM. It is those end points that allow us to automate and update and really take care of the technical part, and then we just have to sort through all the protocols on our side. But, you know, not too much on that. So we have, you know, we have been working to curate all of the data. And then we also look to see if there are creative ways that we can start to understand how people are using the data so that we can score the different teams, based on how they’re using the data in the core functionality of their app. So you can see, we’ve come up with basically four categories. We are starting at no data use, and then we don’t have data for the first year. This is for challenge weekend. So, as Andrew said in the walk-through, challenge weekend, we have a lot of teams, 25 in 2015, 31 in 2016, and 36 this year. And the teams are moving up in competitiveness, and also us in really driving home of what it means in the value of public data. And the first year, we had no teams with public data use. And improving accessibility is the base tier, and combining data sets is the second, and really producing that final analysis is the third tier. If you are doing all three, you are really bringing it home. So you can see, as we are moving teams and they are getting more competitive and the program is evolving. So this is a really exciting metric. So in addition to the taxonomy of data types, we are starting to categorize the app types. In the first two years, we had constrained challenge statements. You can see from the type of apps, people are fitting into categories like education, hiring, tourism, traffic, and also the real estate – convergent real estate locater that people score in the previous slide. And then, the most recent two years, we have been a little bit more open with the challenge statements. So you can see that that really allowed our participants and competitors to maximize their creativity, and lot of them ended up bringing their industry knowledge to the table. We had some creative ideas from people being able to play around, and bring their own knowledge. And then also, we think that we, as we grow the catalog and are building up that variety, that is helping to diversify some of the ideas that people are having. So those are our metrics, and Tyler is going to take it away with the third metric, prom and people partnerships, and how this all works.

So when Margaret approaches me on Go Code Colorado, and I’m from Colorado and I’m always looking for reasons to come back to this beautiful state, the challenge itself was setting people up that participated in it to have long-term success. I’m a big supporter, I have been for a long time for public/private partnerships, agencies have their weaknesses, and through partnerships, if you see the most impactful projects and programs, they are usually done in partnership with public sector and private communities. And the key is that the role people play, maybe not from either organization, in this initiative. And that is key to this one, creating these public/private partnerships where we put people at the center and we build open data. And that is becoming easier and easier. As Aaron said, the site can help people build and leverage data and add value to their communities. And across the country and world, that is getting easier. I’m based in New York and they have a data log, started in 2012, that mandates that all government agencies must release all data by 2018. And now it is become the norm. 10 years ago, they were patting themselves on the backs, but now it is something we should hold ourselves to. And I recently was in Columbia, where they are opening up their data for the first time. You see different cities in different areas, and the theme is that open data really does represent opportunity for people, and for organizations to achieve their goals. And so the people in this partnership, in this challenge, created the projects that we had earlier regulations for, which identifies the need in their community, a business opportunity, and uses open data and mixes private data with that as well, and these public and private institutions have public and private data, and that mix together is very powerful. And this year – (speaker far from mic) – they developed a platform for small-scale farmers to search and identify farmer’s market prices and locations. So finding a very important need in the community, in the farming community, where the economy really depends on this, using open data and really being the product of a partnership that creates the environment to innovate. And so this is a completely different project and a really great example of what we can accomplish in partnerships. So this is the Global Forest Watch, which the company I work for is a part of. And this is part of Visualty, the company that implemented the project. And you can see tree gain and tree loss over time across the world. You can imagine the countries, data sources, and conservation groups that were involved in this. This is a project that will live on for a long time, and that’s the case because of these very solid partnerships. And I think, from a technology perspective, one thing that we can do to facilitate these partnerships and initiatives is create a technology that lowers the barrier to entry for people to participate. Regardless of your background, technical skills, whether you are a developer, coder, or activist, you need to create a tool for people to leverage the power of data and innovate new ideas very easily and very quickly. At CARTO, we automate processes, cut down the time that developers need to spend in creating these platforms. So, along those lines, I think technology companies really have an important role to play, and enabling capable people to respond to market demands, as well as social environmental needs with innovative solutions. And this is supported and facilitated by local government and, of course, is built on open data. Thank you, and I guess we can go into questions. (Applause).

You were talking about building a taxonomy for your public data. Is that – do you have any work available on the internet that we can look at?

It is a work in progress that I’m happy to share.

I participated in Go Code Colorado two years ago, and I thought that taking the public data and making it business-oriented in a way took away from projects sometimes, because I felt like some of the projects that we were on were strictly incorporating speak stuff and, with the schools data, I feel like, you know, taking state data and getting it back to the state can potentially be really powerful, in that example. If you want to know how you are building those schools, and the quality of schools, and the number of children, that can be impacted through building tools like that.

Yeah, definitely an understandable critique. Our office – (speaker far from mic) – we set out to do it, that was just a really obvious, kind of, scope that we had put on it. I definitely believe – like we said, we have worked to make public data available, and we are in the process of making it available for people to use in business, and hopefully in a lot of other ways. So I understand and critique that, for sure.