The Socrata Foundation Established to Unleash the Power of Open Data to Improve the World

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Foundation Will Support Deserving, Society-improving Organizations That Lack the Resources to Fulfill Their Data-Driven Mission; Technology Grants Will Be Made in Open Data Projects That Create New Opportunities for Underserved Communities and Regions, Represent Compelling Social ROI and Offer Potential Advances in Open Data Science and Research

February 19, 2015 – Socrata (http://www.socrata.com), the world leader in cloud solutions for open data and data-driven government, today established the Socrata Foundation, which will expand on the company’s mission to unleash the power of open data to improve the world.

Based on a cohesive and committed philanthropic philosophy that harnesses Socrata’s people, technology and resources, the Socrata Foundation has a clearly defined mandate to support unique, forward-thinking and deserving organizations that lack the resources or financial means to fulfill their data-driven mission.

The Socrata Foundation will proactively support critical and relevant open data efforts that deliver immediate social impact and long-term value for global citizens.

And, as a privileged member of the global open data community, Socrata has established the Socrata Foundation with a focus on three types of open data projects:

  • Those that create new opportunities for underserved communities and regions around the world
  • Those that represent compelling social ROI but are constrained by economic forces beyond the control of stakeholders
  • And those that offer the potential to advance open data science and research

“There are so many worthwhile organizations that are truly data-driven at heart,” says Socrata CEO and Founder Kevin Merritt, “and they want to use open data to positively impact and improve the quality of life for millions of people on just about every continent. We’re determined to support these organizations, and that’s why we established the Socrata Foundation – to provide them with access to our products, services and employees, even if they can’t afford it. We believe that the innovative use of open data can remove a number of barriers standing in the way of social justice and economic progress.”

Adds Robert Runge, a member of Socrata’s Board of Directors: "The Socrata Foundation bridges the significant gap between the mission-critical publicly funded open data projects currently being implemented on a massive scale around the world and the crucial underfunded or unfunded open data opportunities that offer our society enormous benefit and value.”

Making Data-Driven Government in Detroit a Reality

The Socrata Foundation’s first technology grant will be in the City of Detroit’s open data portal -- data.detroitmi.gov -- which will make volumes of non-personal government information broadly available and usable by people and machines without any constraints.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan wants to show residents in his city that their government is finally working for them after years of instability and insolvency. That’s why he turned to data-driven government, which is creating a new form of digital democracy for the 21st century in innovative cities, counties, states, countries and regions all over the world.

“Detroit knew that the transparency, accountability and fact-based decision-making that stem from open data was the absolute right thing for its citizens, but buying the technology just didn’t seem fiscally responsible, given where the city has been financially,” explains Merritt. “So we asked the Socrata Foundation to remove these obstacles and concerns, and that’s how Detroit was able to gain access to our platform, providing for the foundation of a robust form of data-driven government going forward.”

Taking on Family Abuse and Violence

The Socrata Foundation will also support Big Mountain Data (BMD), which develops data science solutions to help in the fight against family abuse and violence.

BMD’s long-term ambition is to establish a national open source repository on repeat offender data that can be made available to civic hackers, governments, law enforcement, social service, universities and state and federal agencies.

In conjunction with SunGard Public Sector, a leading provider of public safety and justice software, Socrata will provide BMD with a digital platform so it can upload its datasets and begin digging deep into the structured information that’s available from its sources. According to its Founder, Susan Scrupski, BMD hopes to build custom applications from these datasets that can be employed and tested in the field.

“We believe access to open data will help determine and deter domestic abuse offenders,” says Scrupski, “and we believe that this approach will help us solve a very serious, painful and damaging societal problem. We have to end the tragedy of family abuse and violence.”

Protecting Tenants and Fighting Slumlords

Looking forward, the Socrata Foundation hopes to help mission-based organizations like Heat Seek NYC, which is leading a civic hacking project that’s tapping the Internet of Things in order to tackle New York City’s heating crisis.

Heat Seek NYC provides unbiased evidence to verify heating code abuse claims in housing court, helps landlords heat their buildings more effectively while reducing costs, and creates transparency in heating data to educate the community and inform housing policy.

The organization’s affordable temperature sensors are installed in apartments. Then the sensors talk to each other via mesh network to collect and transmit ambient temperature data to Heat Seek NYC’s servers. Heat Seek NYC’s powerful Web app integrates this data with public 311 heating complaint information to deliver a better picture of New York City’s heating crisis.

“This is all about gathering data and opening it up to protect tenants from unsafe living conditions,” explains Heat Seek NYC Founder William Jeffries. “We’re tracking the city's worst heating violations and then doing something about them.”

Focusing on Affordable Housing

Finally, the Socrata Foundation will sponsor Socrata’s annual employee sabbatical program called “One Month to Make an Open Data Difference.” The winner of this unique initiative receives a month of paid leave, plus $5,000 to be used for open data-powered community service and civic engagement.

The first winner of Socrata’s “One Month to Make an Open Data Difference” sabbatical was Marcus Louie, who submitted a winning proposal focused on the value that open data could bring to affordable housing in Washington, DC. The story of his work, completed in January of this year, is documented on http://www.marcuslouie.com/blog/.

ABOUT THE SOCRATA FOUNDATION

In establishing the Socrata Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) organization, Socrata is donating 1 percent of its time and products. The Socrata Foundation will work with Socrata on behalf of unique and deserving organizations, but it will operate autonomously, with an independent Board of Directors that will soon be announced.

ABOUT SOCRATA
Socrata is the world leader in cloud solutions for open data and data-driven governments. Its innovative customers include the cities of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Melbourne and Eindhoven; the states of New York, Illinois and Texas; US Health and Human Services; Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; the UN, the European Commission, and the World Bank. Socrata’s solutions – including the recently launched Open Data Network™ which unleashes the full potential of government data to help drive connected communities around the world – assist government leaders in improving transparency, modernizing citizen access to information and bringing data into every decision, all with unprecedented speed and cost savings. Delivered as turnkey services, Socrata’s technologies unlock data trapped in enterprise silos, mobilize and transform it into useful information that everyone can easily access, visualize, share and reuse. To learn more about Socrata, visit http://www.socrata.com.

CONTACT
Liisa O’Neill
Socrata Senior Marketing Communications Manager
liisa.oneill(at)socrata(dot)com
(206) 340-8008 x 7270

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Steven Gottlieb
Socrata
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