This post is from Stuart Gano at Socrata. See our post on Socrata’s blog here.
When Socrata thinks about the future, we want to see government decisions driven by data on a massive scale, across departments and municipalities. And, we want citizens involved, with access to public data they can analyze, share, and use to build a stronger economy.
As a step in that direction, Socrata is excited to adopt the Human Services Data Specification, Open Referral Initiative’s format for publishing community resource directory data, and the Human Services Data API as a default protocol for sharing this data in real-time with external systems.
Moving forward, Socrata will leverage our ‘Open Referral Connector’ to help any of the hundreds of our government customers to aggregate resource directory datasets that are stored on our portal, and transform this data into data packages that comply with the Open Referral format.
In addition to adopting this standard Socrata has created an application called Citizen Connect that can be used to display this data to local residents in a community.
In the near-term, this standardization can help governments make information about their services easier to find and use. Citizens will be able to directly look up key information from a government’s open data portal, and even sign up to receive updates about new services and details. This may also help referral providers decrease the cost of maintaining this data, increase its quality, and make possible new kinds of data-driven collaboration with government.
In the long run, Socrata believes it can enable third-party referral providers to match, link, and sync their resource directory records with data about the services provided by (and funded by) their governments. Innovators will be able to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools for using this critical information, increasing the reach and yielding better service outcomes. Researchers and analysts will be able to query standardized, machine-readable resource data and enrich it with data about usage across multiple channels. This richer data can yield more effective policies, resource allocation, and other decision-making.
Socrata invites any interested clients to explore opportunities to publish standardized service directory data on our platform and through our Citizen Connect neighborhood lookup tool. We also invite civic leaders — such as referral providers, technology developers, researchers, and philanthropic funders — to help us to identify the most valuable service directory data sets, so that we can focus our efforts and learn what works best.
Together, we can make it easier for people to know where to go to get help.