At the Technology Alliance annual luncheon in Seattle earlier this month, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra explained how the open government movement was “collapsing a lot of the complexity” that had previously made federal, state and local collaboration difficult. In particular, Chopra called out the efforts of Seattle startup Socrata, which is helping bring transparency to government information through data.gov. And now Socrata has introduced a new data.gov Web site designed to help government agencies publish and distribute data in new ways, including interactive charts, maps and lists.
Socrata wants to make access to government data as easy to filter, sort and analyze as a pair of loafers on Zappos.com.
“It is now as easy to analyze data as it is to buy a pair of shoes or a TV online,” according to an introductory video describing the new data.gov service.
“You want to make your data easy-to-use and re-use, and the new data.gov platform can help. Anyone can embed your data in their Web site and blog by simply copying a little snippet of HTML code and dropping it into your content management system. It is just like embedding a YouTube video.”
Founded in 2007, Socrata is led by software entrepreneur Kevin Merritt. The company — originally founded under the name blist — is backed by Frazier Technology Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures.
The release of new data.gov service comes amid budget cuts for open government platforms, with Alex Howard of O’Reilly Media noting that the revamp of data.gov indicates that the Web site “will not only stay online but gain more functionality.”
In his talk earlier this month, Chopra spoke in detail about the importance of the data.gov effort and how it could give rise to a “new industry of information intermediaries.”
“Kevin is one of the them at Socrata, but there will be many others whose job it is to harness all of this information and make it relevant for you,” said Chopra. “We see entrepreneurs who actually see this as an active ingredient for new products and services in ways we haven’t even imagined.”