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‘It’s a huge improvement’: Delaware civic hackers on state’s new Open Data Portal

Datasets upon datasets upon datasets will be available in API-friendly formats. Open data advocates are understandably excited.

Open Data Delaware organizer Ryan Harrington speaks at the launch of the state's new open data portal. (Photo courtesy of Open Data Delaware via Twitter)

From signing an executive order in favor of open data to doing the work of actually making it, Delaware’s open data advocates have gotten a lot done this year.
Last night, open data advocates in the First State gathered to celebrate the launch of the state’s Open Data Portal at 1313 Innovation. The launch was a collaboration between Open Data Delaware, Technology Forum of Delaware and the state.
Gov. Jack Markell and chief technology officer James Collins were present as well as Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf. With 30 datasets and over 35 maps, the portal gives easier access to those searching for the data. The event marks a new era of data transparency in the First State.

Restaurant inspection data on the new open data portal. (Screenshot)

Restaurant inspection data on the new open data portal. (Screenshot)

“Right now all the datasets that are published on the portal are technically publicly available already, but they’re spread out over a bunch of agency websites, so they’re not exactly the most easy to find,” said Open Data Delaware co-organizer Ryan Harrington. “Another piece of it is that they were published in formats that aren’t easily usable. Now they’re put out in API-friendly formats.”
Check it out
“It’s a huge improvement compared to what was previously available — which was often only one format for each source of information, and at times that format was PDF files, which are not very useful for anything other than simply reading the words on the page,” added Open Data Delaware co-organizer David Ginzberg. “The Socrata portal also provides API endpoints for the datasets, which is helpful for anyone who wants to build a program or script that automatically queries the data directly from the portal.”

The new portal includes two sections: The Delaware Open Checkbook, a site where constituents can look up information about the state budget and spending. The second section of the portal houses a good amount of datasets and APIs, it’s called Delaware Open Data, not to be confused with the Open Data Delaware meetup group.
Open Data Delaware member and coder Ayani Martin is looking forward to using the portal for her civic hacking projects. “I love the idea of taking usable, beautiful data that’s been buried away and giving it life for people to use,” she said.
Delaware libraries are jazzed about being included in the portal.

The company providing the portal? Socrata, which has been used by states like Pennsylvania and Maryland. The company has a long history of supporting civic-tech initiatives.

Companies: Technology Forum of Delaware

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