Socrata, Inc.

Socrata, Inc.

December 15, 2010 08:01 ET

Citizens by a 3 to 1 Margin Are More Likely to Vote for Politicians Who Champion Open Government

Despite broad support for the idea of open government 65% of citizens remain unaware of Open Data initiatives.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON--(Marketwire - Dec. 15, 2010) - Socrata, Inc., together with public advocacy organizations and Government 2.0 thought leaders Sunlight Foundation, Personal Democracy Forum, GovLoop, Code for America and David Eaves, today released the findings of the Open Government Data Benchmark Study, which surveyed citizens, government employees and civic application developers to assess the state of Open Data from their perspectives.

The study reveals strong support for Open Data among citizens and government employees alike. 67.9% of citizens and 92.6% of government employees believe if data is supposed to be public it should be available online. By a 3 to 1 margin, citizens are also more likely to vote for politicians who champion Open Government. The study also shows that progress has been made with 55.6% of government organizations reporting they have a mandate to share public data with their constituents and 48.1% already publishing data in some fashion.

However, challenges remain. For example, only 28.1% of government employees said the Open Government mandate is funded. 65% of citizens surveyed are unaware of Open Data initiatives by their government. 56.3% of civic developers say they cannot find the data they need to enable their applications and when they do, 54.8% said it is not accessible in a usable format.

The complete findings are available online at http://benchmarkstudy.socrata.com featuring interactive datasets and summary charts from all three surveys. The study highlights can also be visualized on www.socrata.com/benchmark-study or downloaded in a printable report.

Among the major findings of the study:

  • 63% of citizens prefer exploring and interacting with data online, while only 16% prefer to download and analyze the data in a spreadsheet. Downloadable files are currently the prevalent mode of disseminating government data.
  • 65.7% of developers said that data is not accessible via an Application Programming Interface (API).
  • 54% of Government employees cited compliance with executive or legislative mandate as the primary driver of Open Data initiatives.
  • 61.4% of citizens and 88.3% of government stakeholders believe that developers and entrepreneurs will transform government data assets into useful applications and services.
  • 67.9% of citizens and 91% of government employees feel that government public data is the property of taxpayers and should be free to all citizens.
  • 43.6% of developers cite the potential for their applications to impact people's daily lives as their primary motivator.
  • 23.8% of government organizations surveyed have launched a coordinated and centralized open data site.

"The findings of this study support what Sunlight has been seeing from our open government stakeholders in the public sector, the tech community and citizen advocates. The current commitment among all of those working to advance Open Government shows that we are at a good starting point, but more hard work is still ahead of us in order to create the promise of a truly open government," said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation.

Kevin Merritt, Founder and CEO of Socrata, adds "The transformative impact of Open Data will become self-perpetuating, but is not there yet. The flywheel effect requires two things: significantly more high-value data that is universally accessible; and more active engagement between governments, citizens and developers."

Engagement and Participation Slowly Taking Shape

When asked if their government organizations are actively engaging constituents and promoting citizen participation in their Open Data initiative, 30.9% government stakeholders said "yes", 21% said they plan to in the future and 21.5% said "no." 21.9% said they are already soliciting public feedback to help identify important datasets.

Citizens, on the other hand, showed a desire to engage with the government in their Open Data initiatives, with 36% indicating they would like to be involved versus 33% who are "just happy to get the data." The desire to engage with government is highest among citizens with at least a university degree (49%), who live in the West or the North East (44% and 42% respectively) or who are over 55 years of age (44%).

Government stakeholders also indicated that 21.5% of government organizations are actively engaging with developers to build applications, with another 14.4% planning to do so in the future. Still, 40.9% stated they had no current plans to engage developers.

About the Open Data Benchmark Study

This report is based on data from three surveys conducted between August and October 2010. The citizen survey was commissioned by Socrata and conducted online by research firm Vision Critical. The survey covered a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults in the United States. The Government survey was conducted by Socrata and covered 300 self-identified government employees. The developer survey was also conducted by Socrata and covered 50 civic application developers. The Study was conducted with the support of advocacy organizations and Government 2.0 thought leaders Sunlight Foundation, Personal Democracy Forum, GovLoop, Code for America and David Eaves.

About Socrata

Socrata, Inc. (Socrata), is the proven leader in Open Data Services, a category of Web solutions that enable federal, state, and local governments like Medicare, State of Washington and City of Seattle to dramatically improve the reach, usability and usefulness of public data while lowering the costs of serving large datasets and managing large-scale federated data catalogs.

Socrata develops, operates and licenses the most comprehensive set of commercial Open Data Services including:

  • Socrata Social Data Platform™: a cloud-based, turnkey solution that enables data publishers to provide a universally accessible and engaging data-consumption experience, delivered within configurable, branded datasites.
  • Socrata Social Data Player™: makes it easy to embed and propagate any Socrata-hosted dataset across the Web while maintaining source fidelity and full interactivity.
  • Socrata Open Data API (SODA): a freely-distributed, open, standards-based, non-proprietary application programming interface that makes every public Socrata-hosted dataset uniformly accessible to developers

Socrata is a private company, based in Seattle, Washington, with venture financing from Frazier Technology Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures. To learn more about Socrata, visit www.socrata.com.

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