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During the opening keynote at the Accela Engage conference two weeks ago, I gave a sneak peek look at the upcoming Accela Open Data Platform. It was gratifying to see how that quick peek turned into the talk of the conference. During the weeklong conference, I had numerous agencies approach me asking when they can get their hands on our new Open Data Platform. Each person who approached me had the same thing to say: “What you have created is exactly what my agency needs and solves our current open data problems perfectly.” And just yesterday, our very own Maury Blackman discussed open data on NBC’s Press:Here with Scott McGrew in a segment titled “Bringing Government Data Online.”

So, what exactly is it that Accela is up to and what is our strategy when it comes to Open Data? I answered these questions during a session on Open Data at Accela Engage in a room packed with 110 conference attendees.

Attendees join the Open Data session at the Accela Engage: 2013 User Conference earlier this month.

In a single sentence, the Accela Open Data strategy is to make it easy for our customers to create open datasets and easy for developers to consume open datasets. To do this we have created a revolutionary open data platform.

The Accela Open Data Platform

How are we making it easy for our customers? The Accela Open Data Platform runs in the Accela Civic Cloud, removing the need for on-premise Accela customers to install additional software or procure additional servers. The platform works with Accela Automation 7.0.5 or above and can either be hosted by Accela or hosted on-premise by the agency. Essentially, it will just work: no upgrades and no additional infrastructure required.

Creating open datasets is simple, too. An intuitive web interface has been created for agency administrators to create new open datasets from their Accela Automation data. Best of all, those datasets are kept up to date in real time. As transactions take place against Accela Automation, the open datasets are kept up to date. This removes the burden from the agency’s IT staff of figuring out how to get the data out of the system and how to keep it updated. Additionally, Accela Automation datasets can be added to the open data platform as well. Real-time open datasets are an industry first by Accela, which is something we’re very proud of.

What are we doing for developers? To make it easy for developers, the Accela Open Data Platform provides a single point to find datasets across multiple agencies. All datasets are accessed through a single portal that is segmented by agency. By having all the data in one portal, developers can focus more time on building creative applications and less time on trying to find datasets. Accela believes that providing quicker access to real-time datasets will drive civic innovation. With all the data in one place, applications that have never been seen before will start to be created—applications that do things like analyze data between agencies—providing a view of information in new and creative ways.

In addition to real-time datasets and a regional open data portal, our Open Data Platform provides out-of-the-box support for the emerging open dataset standards LIVES (restaurant inspection data) and HouseFacts (residential building data standards).

Look for general availability of our new open data platform later this year.

How is your agency planning to use open data? Or, if you’re already doing so, what are some of the benefits you’ve seen in your community?

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