TODD LIghtning Talks

TODD 2016 Lightning Talks

Raleigh, NC – The lightning talks for Triangle Open Data Day have been announced and this is a great line up of speakers! There is still time to register for TODD.

Lightning Talks

TODD and Lightning Talk Details

The lightning talks are scheduled from 11 am to 12:30 pm on Saturday, March 5, 2016.

  • TODD Website
  • When: Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 8:30 AM – Sunday, March 6, 2016 at 5:00 PM (EST)
  • Where: College of Engineering Engineering Building II, NCSU Centennial Campus, 890 Oval Dr, Raleigh, NC 27606
  • Why: Help our cities and counties by using open data
  • TODD Registration Site

Lightning NOAA by C. Clark – NOAA Photo Library

Picture from Triangle Open Data Day 2014 - pictures by Mitch Amiano

TODD2016 – Keynote and Schedule

Raleigh, NC – The Schedule and Keynote for Triangle Open Data Day 2016 (TODD) have been announced: Read more

Open Data Portals in NC

Open Data Portals in NC

Cary, NC – The open data movement is gaining traction in North Carolina. This month both the Durham City/County portal and the Wake County portal have come on line. Here is a summary of the open data portals currently in operation in North Carolina.

Asheville was the first city in North Carolina with an open data portal. The portal was developed in 2012 in support of Asheville’s first Open Data Day. The Asheville portal is powered by Azavea, a B-Corporation out of Philadelphia that specializes in the creation of geographic web and mobile software.

Cary put up an open data site in support of Cary Open Data Day in 2013. This site consisted of 6 datasets in .csv format and was kept updated for some time following the event. The site is no longer active but we understand that Cary is undertaking an open data program soon so we will wait to see what portal Cary uses.


Charlotte launched their open data portal in late 2014 in conjunction with their Code for America Fellowship program. The Charlotte portal is powered by ESRI, a US company providing geospacial mapping tools.

Durham City and Durham County
Durham City and Durham County released their open data portal in time for Triangle Open Data Day 2015. The Durham portal is powered by OpenDataSoft, a French company providing open data portals.

Raleigh launched their open data portal early 2013 which has been recognized with a 2013 Web 2.0 Award from the Public Technology Institute (PTI). The Raleigh open data portal is powered by Socrata, a US company that provides open data portals.

Wake County
Wake County has just released a Beta open data portal and is looking for public feedback. The Wake County portal is powered by ESRI, a US company providing geospacial mapping tools.

Open NC is a catalog of digital public data created by state and local governments in North Carolina. It was created by Ryan Thornburg, an Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with funding from a Knight Foundation News Challenge grant.

NC Datapalooza
NC Datapalooza is a 6 month long open data competition in NC with 2015 being the third year of this program. The NC Datapalooza open data portal is powered by Socrata, a US company that provides open data portals.

Open Data Portal Location Visualizations

We wanted to give our readers some idea of the power of embedding visualizations into their stories. First we created a simple .csv file that included the pertinent data about the open data portals in NC. We used the geocordinates from GeoHack. Since the writer has access to a Socrata and OpenDataSoft portal, the csv file was uploaded to the portals and the resulting visualizations were embedded in this post.

Changes to the underlying data set in the portal will be immediately available to the visualizations on your post. This means that your visualization will always be current and there will be no need to republish based on updated information. Of course if you want a snapshot in time you can always embed a screen shot of the visualization.



Previous Articles on Open Data

Disclosure: The writer is an organizer of NC Datapalooza (which has a full Socrata portal) and a Brigade Captain of Code for Cary (which has a full OpenDataSoft Portal as well as a brigade level Socrata portal)

2014 Top Ten Image

Tech Tank Top 10 for 2014

Cary, NC – 2014 was a good year for Technology activity in NC and the Triangle. The pages and regular features from Technology Tank that you found most helpful were our listing of Tech Meetup Groups in the Triangle and Charlotte, the monthly lists of Upcoming Tech Events and our Tech Calendar. [Note, please contact us if you find any errors or omissions on our Tech Meetup Group lists.]

Tech Tank Top 10 Articles

Here are the Top 10 Tech Tank articles based on your views:

  1. Hortonworks launches in Durham. Tech Tank interview with with Barry Duplantis, Hortonworks new Vice President of Customer Success to discuss his move to Hortonworks and the decision to launch operations in the Triangle.
  2. Raleigh – Emerging Tech Hub. Raleigh included in a TransferWise blog list of the 8 emerging tech hubs.
  3. Oakhaven Coworking. A project of Tech Tank, Oakhaven Coworking follows the success of American Underground, HQ Raleigh and others by bringing a coworking space to suburban Cary.
  4. How Libya’s Election Process is Better than the United States’s. NC based Caktus Group developed the technology that registered 1.5 million voters for Libya’s June 25th elections.
  5. Triangle Open Data Day Recap. We were told that Triangle Open Data Day was the biggest Open Data event in the world!
  6. Morrisville StartUp Networking. The Morrisville Innovation Foundation periodic networking event.
  7. Triangle Open Data Day. An initiative of Tech Tank, Triangle Open Data Day unites developers, data analysts, civic leaders, students and activists in a weekend of learning, liberating data and building applications to display useful information.
  8. Code for America Brigade. The idea behind Code for America (CfA) is “hacking for public good” – developing civic apps that can be used across municipalities in America.
  9. LIVES – Open Data Standard. Wake County is one of four early adopters of the LIVES data standard – an open data standard which allows municipalities to publish restaurant inspection information that can be consumed by apps like Yelp.
  10. The Open Data Institute Comes to NC. The Open Data Institute founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee has a node in North Carolina – the Open Data Institute of North Carolina (ODI NC).

Picture from iabusa under Creative Commons

Wake County adopts LIVES Open Data Standard

Wake County Adopts LIVES

Raleigh, NC – Wake County is one of four early adopters of the LIVES data standard – an open data standard which allows municipalities to publish restaurant inspection information that can be consumed by apps like Yelp.

This is the second part of this story, the first part can be found at LIVES – Open Data Standard.

Providing easier access to information is really what it’s all about.

LIVES Brings Government Transparency

The Wake County CIO, Bill Greeves, learned of the Local Inspector Value-entry Specification (LIVES) pilot program at a leadership conference and recognized this as an example of transparency in government. Wake County already had the restaurant inspection data available. Being able to share this data with an audience that might be interested in it in the best way possible seemed like a natural fit. “Providing easier access to that information is really what it’s all about.”, said Greeves.

Greeves gathered a small team including Andre Pierce, Angela Strickland and Chris Mathews to investigate and implement this exciting new approach to sharing restaurant inspection data. The team worked directly with the technical and marketing personnel at Yelp to develop the necessary data extracts. Some data was in dissimilar formats or had to be scaled to match the levels of the LIVES standard. Chris Mathews explained the value of this data standard: “LIVES affords the ability of scores across separate jurisdictions to mean the same thing – a score of 93 in Raleigh means the same thing as a 93 in San Francisco”.

Wake County Inspires the Region

Within six weeks, Wake County was ready to publish the restaurant inspections on Yelp. A launch strategy was planned including local news and social media to announce the availability of Wake’s health scores on Yelp. The interest generated from making restaurant inspections available led to Durham County and New Hanover County (Wilmington) to begin working to adopt the LIVES standard in their counties. With these 2 counties coming on board, the Triangle (and Eastern North Carolina) will be the first region in the country to adopt the LIVES Open Data standard. Code for Durham, the Durham Code for America Brigade, was also sparked to incorporate the LIVES reporting standard in their development of a local restaurant application celebrating Durham as the South’s Tastiest Town!

Wake County hopes to use the LIVES project and others like it to inform both the public and government sectors of the value of Open Data and Open Government as they launch a more comprehensive Open Data Program. Wake County is looking to release more data and to work with local startups and recognized industry leaders to develop applications to improve the lives of Wake County citizens.

Award Winning Department

The Wake County IS Department is well recognized for their innovative efforts, recently receiving a Pinnacle Award for best local government website by the National Association of Government Web Professionals. See all their awards on the Wake County IS Department Website.

Chris Mathews contributed to this article.

Code for America and Yelp collaborate on LIVES Open Data Standard

LIVES – Open Data Standard

Raleigh, NC – Wake County is one of four early adopters of the LIVES data standard – an open data standard which allows municipalities to publish restaurant inspection information that can be consumed by apps like Yelp.

Why Do We Need Data Standards?

We are surrounded by data. Our municipalities collect and store huge amounts of data. So the question is not if we have data, but how is it cataloged and stored. Take a street address for instance. If one municipality lists a street name as “StreetName” and another lists it as “RoadName” in a data file header, we have the beginnings of an interoperability problem. (This is a simple example of differences in the naming, or the ‘metadata’, of a data file. Metadata is a big subject area which will be a future topic for the Journal).

As a person looking at the data titles, we are smart enough to equate both of these titles as being the same thing, but to a machine reading the data, we have a readability problem as the program most likely will not know the similarity of “StreetName” or “RoadName”. So an app that was built to consume data in one municipality might not work in another municipality if the titles, or metadata, are not consistent in some way.

Just think of electric vehicles. If each municipality has a different physical connection to charge a vehicle, no one would think of making an electric vehicle. Standards in data are as important as standards for our consumer items. We want our municipalities to store data in a uniform way for people to access so that they will be able to provide services that are useful to us.

The LIVES Data Standard

In 2013 Code for America made restaurant inspection data readily available to diners — by putting it on Yelp. Working with both government staff and the Yelp team, Code for America created a standardized format for this data, called LIVES.

Developed in collaboration with the City of San Francisco and Yelp, the Local Inspector Value-entry Specification (LIVES) is an open data standard which allows municipalities to publish restaurant inspection information to Yelp or any other website.

Wake County as an Early Adopter

To be continued…

Quotes about LIVES from the Code for America Website

Pinnacle Awards Picture

Wake County Award Winning Website

Raleigh, NC – On Sept. 26, 2013, Wake County won a prestigious Pinnacle Award for best local government website at the National Association of Government Web Professionals (NAGW) 2013 Conference.  (Press Release). NAGW is the leading organization for local government web professionals.

The award was recognized at Monday’s Wake County Board of Commissioners meeting. The Pinnacle Award was for ‘best local government website’ in the large population category. Kudos to Wake County! Details

The following details about the site are from the December 2, 2013 Meeting Agenda of the Wake County Board of Commissioners:

  • The current version of was launched in October 2012 and was completed in nine months, using existing staff in Information Services and content contributors from all departments.
  • No external vendors or resources were used.
  • The website receives more than 9.4 million site visits and 126.7 million page views annually and Information Services is proud of its very low downtime rate.
  • The website quickly connects users to the content and online services they need, from mobile devices and traditional computers.
Imagine Cary Age Graph

Where are the Millenials?

Cary, NC – On looking at the graph, the question popped into my mind. Scott Ramage, AICP, Principal Planner for the Town of Cary Planning Department was speaking at the monthly Economic Development Committee Meeting on May 1, 2013. We were getting a preview of the information developed for Imagine Cary.

The above graph bugged me. The 20-29 year old grouping was very low for Cary compared to the region. Why was Cary missing a generation? Is this something new or has it always been that way? Raleigh seemed to have the alternate trend as their 20-29 year old group was much larger than Cary.

Census Data

I went to the US census data to try to answer my question. There is a very useful tool on the site, Fact Finder, that lets you sift through the many, many census databases to come up with some information.

I pulled out data for 2000 and 2010 and below is the age distributions I found for Cary.

Cary Age Distribution 2000 vs 2010

The age range in 2000 of the current Millenial generation also has a drop off, so this does not look to be something new for Cary.  The graph seems to point out a decrease in the population of younger professionals and an increase in the older professionals and those who are most likely retired.

Why are the Age Ranges Different?

I know you will ask the question as to why the age ranges are different from the chart taken from Scott’s presentation and mine. The answer comes from the age ranges that are reported by the Census tables. For some reason, the age range reporting for the 2000 census is different than the 2010 census. The 2000 census reported many age ranges in split decades (ie. 35-44) so it was not possible to get the 2000 age ranges to match up to the 2010 age ranges. I was able to go in the reverse and get 2010 data to fit into the age ranges reported in the 2000 census data.

Wake and Raleigh

I also looked at the population change in Wake County and Raleigh for completeness.
Wake County Age Distribution 2000 vs 2010
Raleigh Age Distribution 2000 vs 2010

What Does This Mean?

I’m not sure. This is just one view of a huge amount of data that is available to us. The answers may be found with much more analysis. The Open Data movement will help as more data becomes available for civic hackers to chew on.

What do you think?