Data is the infrastructure of the digital age.
And publicly available data can now illuminate solutions to challenges like no other time in our history. There is no single entity that collects and manages more data than government. Unfortunately, many of the systems and processes that collect this data have not kept up with the demand and the potential for it.
The world-wide Open Data movement asks government entities of all sizes to make their data—a public asset—available to developers and entrepreneurs so its potential can be realized.
Go Code Colorado is taking a lead position in this movement.
The first and only statewide effort of its kind, Go Code Colorado brings together a community of entrepreneurs, business partners, and developers to make use of public data through a series of events. These events center around a challenge weekend in five cities across the state, engaging the entire state in two days of innovation around the use of public data. Teams in each of the five cities compete to build apps that use public data to help businesses make smarter decisions. Two teams from each city move on in the competition, getting help from a network of mentors—including a Mentor Weekend in Boulder—as they further develop their ideas. The teams come back together again for a Final Event where they pitch their ideas to judges.
The three teams deemed the best are awarded a contract with the state—an invaluable first customer to a fledgling business that provides critical initial revenue.
Go Code Colorado is an initiative through the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, which seeks to return value to Colorado businesses from business registration fees they collect. In its inaugural year, this is the value Go Code Colorado returned to our state:
1. Community building and civic engagement
Go Code Colorado increased civic engagement in the business, entrepreneurial, and tech communities. Business leaders volunteered their time across the event series because they desire more access to government data—they know how important this is to economic development. 29 businesses supported open data and Go Code Colorado through $75,000 in cash donations and $120,000 worth of in-kind donations. Companies like Google, Esri, SendGrid, Rally Software and Gnip (now Twitter) all participated.
- Dozens of business leaders volunteered a day with Go Code Colorado organizers to define the problems they face that public data can help solve.
- 179 people attended the Kickoff event.
- 130 people and 25 teams competed in the challenge weekend across Colorado (Boulder, Denver, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs, and Durango).
- The Mentor Weekend brought together 23 mentors to meet with ten teams.
- The Final event attracted 223 people.
2. Tech and Business Innovation
Go Code Colorado is the most concerted effort in the state to increase the volume of public data in the state’s central repository.
33 new data sets were published as a result of last year’s efforts by agencies such as Revenue, Local Affairs, and Higher Education.
At least three businesses were created around three apps that use this data. For instance, the winning team, Beagle Score created an app that helps provide a scorecard for business site-location decisions. Beagle Score relies on many public data sets, including:
- Business Registration
- City Taxes
- County Taxes
- Crime Statistics
- NREL energy statistics
- Traffic counts
- Nearest Intersection
- Energy rates and providers
- Broadband service
3. Procurement Innovation
Go Code Colorado is flipping traditional government procurement on its head, creating value to Colorado businesses and society.
According to the Standish Group, 94% of large federal IT projects over the past ten years were unsuccessful. Over 50% were delayed, over budget, or didn’t meet user expectations, and 41% failed completely.
Go Code Colorado challenges developers and entrepreneurs to solve business problems using public data by awarding companies who create working apps, not those with just a promise to do so.
4. Government Efficiency and Transparency
Go Code Colorado imagines a day when pulling a data report is a matter of a few pop up menu selections, and doesn’t require specialized knowledge, when data managers across government are able to focus on the work they do best and anyone can access the public data they collect and curate.
This is the promise of open data, and the step forward taking place with Go Code Colorado.