Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, today launched Data.CT.gov, Connecticut's new open data portal that allows widespread amounts of raw government data to be collected, placed on the internet, and shared with the public in a major effort to increase government efficiency and transparency by providing an easily accessible database that residents can use for any number of purposes. The Governor made the announcement at SeeClickFix, a New Haven firm that has created a communications platform for citizens to report non-emergency issues, and governments to track, manage, and reply.
"We launched this website to as part of our goal to make the data collected by state government more open and easily accessible to its owners -- the taxpayers of Connecticut," said Governor Malloy. "Data.CT.gov will make vast amounts of data -- data that was previously hard to find -- easily accessible to individuals, researchers, entrepreneurs, academics, policymakers and other state agencies, and spur a new level of innovation and collaboration in our state."
Created as a result of Executive Order No. 39, Data.CT.gov will serve as a portal where data collected across all state government agencies will be shared with the public. The website will also include access to economic development data that was made public under Executive Order No. 38. The Executive Order, No. 38, was issued in December 2013 and requires the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to create a searchable electronic database on the DECD website containing information regarding certain economic assistance and tax credits that were utilized for the purpose of recruitment or retention of business.
"By making vast amounts of government data available to the public, Data.CT.gov will be a valuable resource for entrepreneurs and software developers creating new products and apps here in Connecticut," said SeeClickFix CEO and Founder Ben Berkowitz. "I look forward to exploring the potential of this new open data site and I'm excited to watch it grow."
Data.CT.gov includes lists, tables, charts, graphs or other non-narrative forms of data that is generally statistical or factual. This data is collected by executive branch agencies and EO 38 instructs them to identify data within their agencies and begin the process of uploading that data to the portal.
"OPM is excited not only to lead this important initiative, but also to move Connecticut forward into the age of data-driven governing," said OPM Secretary Ben Barnes. "This new portal provides us with opportunities for a more collaborative, interactive, and transparent approach to measure the performance of government services and programs."
Analysts, academics, entrepreneurs and all members of the public have the opportunity to use the posted data. The online portal also gives users the opportunity to visualize data through graphs or charts and on maps when applicable. Finally, data posted on the portal can be embedded in other websites by any user.
To create the Connecticut Open Data Portal, the State of Connecticut has signed a contract with Socrata, Inc. The portal is managed and administered by Tyler Kleykamp of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), who is the portal's Chief Data Officer (CDO). Kleykamp previously served as the coordinator of state geospatial information systems (GIS) at OPM.
"Today is a great day -- and an important shift in Connecticut's movement towards greater civic engagement," said State Comptroller Kevin Lembo. "It was one year ago -- last March -- that we delivered a tall order through proposed legislation to establish a publicly accessible online database for state tax credit and economic assistance programs. Governor Malloy, through Executive Orders 38 and 39, has delivered all of the data points that we asked for in our legislation, and much more. Through Connecticut's new open data portal -- and innovations by companies such as SeeClickFix -- we are reinventing and improving how government connects with the people it serves. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Malloy, and champions of open government, to build on these initiatives."
The Chief Data Officer will be responsible for working with an Agency Data Officer (ADO) designated by the commissioner at each state agency covered by the order. ADOs will work within their agencies to regularly identify new data suitable for the portal and share that list of data with the CDO. The CDO will work with the ADOs to identify data and upload it to the portal. The CDO will be advised by an advisory panel created by this executive order and appointed by the Governor.
The Governor stressed that Executive Order No. 39 instructs agency heads to make public data openly available while continuing to safeguard information that must be kept secure. The order does not apply to any protected data that, if disclosed, would violate state or federal law, would endanger the public health, safety or welfare, hinder the operation of government or impose and undue financial, operational or administrative burden on a state agency.
"Government is most efficient when its work is done in a clear and transparent manner," said State Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-11). "Making this information available will lead to greater accountability in the decision-making process and ensure that government is working for the people."
"Opening the doors of state government and making our information available to the public - to truly inform policy advocates, service providers, the media, and all our constituents - by doing this, we will allow our residents to be better informed and better served, while empowering legislators to make smarter choices on behalf of our communities," said State Rep. Roland Lemar (D-96). "By opening up our data we will allow individuals and small businesses to create opportunities to improve what we do in government - how we respond to emergencies, how we create service efficiencies, and how we responsibly allocate our resources. This is a small act that could yield tremendous benefit for the residents of our state."
"This is a small, business-friendly, action that will pay huge dividends for companies looking to grow," said State Rep. Toni Walker (D-93). "SeeClickFix has become part of the vernacular here in New Haven. Pothole -- SeeClickFix! Graffiti -- SeeClickFix! Opening this pool of public data will trigger even more startups like SeeClickFix to grow and thrive across the state."
"Giving our constituents tools that will allow them greater access to information and better understanding of how our governmental systems work is a step in the right direction," said State Rep. Juan Candelaria (D-95). "It promotes transparency and offers everyone the opportunity to research for themselves. I commend our governor for this important initiative."
"New Haven residents have quickly learned to involve themselves with day-to-day city operations by using SeeClickFix and have just as quickly come to rely upon the city's responsiveness to the matter at hand, rewarding that participation," said New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp. "Expanding this technology to encourage resident participation in state government is a welcome extension of this idea."
SeeClickFix's goal is to provide the best tools for residents and governments to communicate for all sizes, populations, and budgets - ultimately making communities better through transparency, collaboration, and cooperation. Using Google Maps, SeeClickFix's platform has improved communication and response time for municipal issues, because citizen complaints and the subsequent response from their local government are both posted publicly. SeeClickFix received $293,650 in state Small Business Express (EXP) funding to expand operations and create 15 jobs. As of January 2014, the company had 18 full-time employees, up from 12 employees last year, plus three fellows funded by a CT Next grant.