The Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) launched a new data-sharing website last week designed to present comprehensive state and local government information in a more accessible, transparent format. Data.colorado.gov gives users more options to visualize data in various formats, state officials say, and data can also be taken from the site for mobile app development.

According to the OIT, the portal will make public data from all levels of government easier for citizens to locate and use.

“Today, agency data is siloed, it’s disparate, it’s difficult to find and it’s difficult for agencies to be able to share,” said Kristin Russell, the state’s CIO and secretary of technology, in a video about the new website. “In addition, other organizations such as colleges, health-care providers – they also don’t know how to get to this data or even what data can be shared and useful for their purposes.”

The Colorado Information Marketplace functions as a directory for anyone interested in looking up public data on Colorado state and local government agencies – ranging from information on public schools to state telehealth network locations. Users can view raw data such as locations of the state agencies and generate the data into a map.  Data sets can also be generated into other formats like varying types of charts.

David Main, the state’s technical information architect, said in the video that maps and other data formats created on the data portal can be embedded onto other websites by clicking an “embed” icon. The website will then present the user with pre-made HTML code that can be cut and paste from the Colorado portal into a personal website.

And aside from data being available for personal websites, the data can be used for mobile app development. Main said the portal is “out-of-the-box” mobile enabled, and the portal provides app developers with application programming interfaces (APIs) so the information is accessible from smartphones so data can be generated into apps for the public.

The OIT launched the public-facing component of the website using Seattle-based cloud data company Socrata with the assistance of a Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grant, said Sherri Hammons, Colorado’s chief technology officer. The open data platform already is in use by city and state governments like Seattle and Oregon, as well as by the federal government’s data.gov portal.

The Socrata platform is powering a growing number of data collaborations. For instance, MetroChicagoData.org utilizes Socrata to mash up data from the city of Chicago, Cook County and Illinois into a single Web platform that government officials dubbed a “convergence cloud.”

The state of Oregon integrated federal data sets onto its website, Data.Oregon.gov — a move Sean McSpaden, the state’s deputy CIO, said was a first by a state. Data.Oregon.gov integrates more than 5,000 Data.gov data sets — the federal government’s main website is also running on Socrata.

Through an “aggressive schedule,” Hammons said the Colorado finalized the purchase of the platform by the end of January so the website could go live at the end of May.

Colorado is looking to continue adding more data sets from agencies in the future, including the possibility of integrating federal data to the website. Hammons said because Colorado Information Marketplace is still in its infancy — she believes only 1 percent of available data is populated on the new website— officials expect more departments to get on board to make their data available through the site now that the website it up and running.

“We’ve barely scratched the surface on how the agencies want to use it,” Hammons said. “The Department of Transportation is very excited because they can build a lot of maps with it – it’s a pretty robust tool. And they haven’t even really begun to use it yet.”

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.