History of Open Data

When did open data history begin?
 Who has supported Go Code along the way? And who really built the bridge between government and business? 

For this blog, we’re returning to Go Code’s grassroots by exploring open data history since the 1970s.

Behold the power of public data, which has been around longer than you may realize.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases weather information to the public.

A Korean passenger plane is shot down after it strayed into USSR prohibited airspace, prompting President Reagan to make the US Global Positioning System (GPS) available to civilians.

Former law enforcement professional and future Go Code Colorado mentor Sean Bair launches Bair Analytics, providing analytical software that strengthens Intelligence Led Policing efforts. What a guy!

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for open government is born.

30 open-data pioneers penned a set of open-government data principles: complete, primary, timely, accessible, machine-processable, nerdy, nondiscriminatory, nonproprietary and license-free. 

The idea, according to Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig, was about “. . .more transparency. . .and opportunity for people to leverage government data to produce insights or other great business models.” 

Good idea, Larry. The bridge-building has begun.

The Obama administration called start up company Socrata, seeking help sharing campaign donor records in a simple accessible online format. Socrata made it happen. 

Today, they’re a valuable Go Code Colorado partner AND a current market leader in Cloud-based Data Democratization solutions for Government (CDDG). Just sayin’.

President Obama issued his memorandum on transparency and open government and later that year Data.gov launched with just 47 datasets. You have to start somewhere. 

Code for America is founded to address the widening gap between public and private sectors in their effective use of technology and design.

Public dataThe Secretary of State’s office starts Go Code Colorado (that’s us!), the first and so far only statewide apps challenge to harmonize developer-entrepreneur relationships to build public-data-using business apps. 

Go Code Colorado grows fast, garnering volunteer team members, government data  managers, mentors, corporate partners, community builders and supporters across the state.

That same year, the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) stood up a statewide open data repository, the Colorado Information Marketplace, which Go Code Colorado helps to populate with high-quality data and engages participants to use for the app challenge.  

President Obama launched Project Open Data–a collection of code, tools, and case studies, as a community resource to unlock the power of government data.

Data.gov is up to 100,000 datasets from 227 agencies. That was fast. We’re talking FBI stuff, Dow Jones returns, cancer incidence, AirBnb user sessions, Wal Mart sales numbers and Boston suburb stats, just to name a few. 

Plus, Beagle Score wins the Go Code Colorado competition with an app that helps business owners choose a location based on, you guessed it, data: infrastructure, neighborhood, taxes, competition and regulations.


Open data history began in the 1970s with the release of weather data from NOAA.Today: The spirit of community and innovation is flourishing. Go Code Colorado remains a fearless leader in the open data movement, offering events, education, collaboration and potential funding for hundreds of people across Colorado every year. And they continue to bridge the gap between mountains of locked-away data and the power of Colorado entrepreneurs.

So there’s your open data history lesson. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Upcoming Events


Challenge Weekend

April 13-15, 2018

Mentor Weekend

April 27-29, 2018


May 18, 2018 @ 12:00-1:00 pm


May 23, 2018 @ 5:30-6:30 pm


May 24, 2018 @ 5:30-6:30 pm

Final Event

June 7. 2018 @ 6:00 PM

Don't miss an update.

Email Sign Up