The open data movement is approaching a new phase, moving past just making data available in machine readable formats. On Tuesday, Oct. 15, Accela launched a new standardized open data platform called CivicData.com that allows both existing and prospective Accela customers to publish government data in one central location.
The free platform hosts cross-jurisdictional open data sets and displays them in real time, according to the announcement.
“Today many government agencies have their own data portals, but now it will be even easier to access data from across departments and jurisdictions and make it possible for technologists to build tools on top of this useful information,” said Civic Insight Co-founder Eddie Tejada, in a statement.
Kris Trujillo, Accela’s director of software development, said other open data platforms don’t always have the most up-to-date data, often displaying information that is weeks or even months old.
“So what we’ve done is the data sets are now disconnected from the Accela system in an open data platform,” Trujillo said. “But we’ve built in a connection between our open data platform and the Accela automation system to keep the data sets updated in real time.”
Trujillo said the platform may be beneficial to members of the Code for America Brigade, volunteers working with local governments on technology projects. Because the Brigade program is volunteer based, members don't have a place to publish open data unless they develop their own stand-alone environment. They also often don’t have the means to purchase an open data hosting service since their service is on a volunteer basis.
As a captain for the Open Salt Lake Brigade in Salt Lake City, Trujillo has experienced first-hand the challenges that other Brigade captains have faced when looking for an environment to host open data.
Government entities like San Diego County and El Paso, Texas, (both Accela customers) plan to start uploading their public data sets into the new platform. Brigade partners like Open Nebraska and Open Salt Lake have also already joined since the platform officially launched. For non-Accela customers to import data into the new portal, they can create a login account on CivicData.com and start loading data sets from there.
As more government data is added to the centralized platform, it will create new opportunities for citizens and developers to compare different agencies' information, and leverage the data to create solutions, Trujillo said.