I’m Speaking at NACIS Conference Pittsburgh, PA October 8-10, 2014

I’m speaking at the National Association of Cartographic Information Society’s (NACIS) annual conference next month.  I’m giving a presentation during the Geographic Data Collections Day session.  Stop by and listen and say hi!

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Introducing ITA’s Trade Developer Portal

Open US Trade Data/APIs from the International Trade Administration.

Tradeology, the ITA Blog

Kimberly Becht is the Deputy Program Manager for Web Presence in the International Trade Administration.

ITA's Trade Developer Portal provides APIs for office locations, market research, trade events, trade leads and trade news. ITA’s Trade Developer Portal.

In support of President Obama’s Open Government Initiative and the Commerce Department’s strategic plan, the International Trade Administration (ITA) has taken a major step in making its data open and accessible to the public through its Trade Developer Portal.

Announced today by Secretary Pritzker, the portal is a collection of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow software developers to create web and mobile applications using information produced by ITA and other trade promotion agencies.

Making its data public to software developers is one more way ITA is helping U.S. businesses export and enabling foreign investment in American companies through the use of cutting edge technologies.

The Trade Developer Portal helps fulfill the Department’s top priority of making federal data open and available to third party developers in order to foster…

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Open Data Portals: Where To Find Data

Finding sources of open data can be a little cumbersome because there are so many ways to find data. There are a lot of websites that house data. For instance, let’s say that you are looking for data on the bike routes in Philadelphia. One place you can look at is Open Data Philly which is a portal that provides access Philadelphia based data sets, APIs, and applications.  You can search amongst the over 170 datasets or even submit or nominate a dataset to be included on the site.  A quick search on the site shows that there are 6 datasets related to biking ranging from bike rack locations to commuting routes.  Many large cities and counties are have websites where they store open data for their municipalities.

Here are some sites for local/federal government data:

Philadelphia: Open Data Philly

New York City: NYC Open Data

Boston: City of Boston

District of Columbia: Open Data Catalog

U.S. Government: Data.gov

City Departments Release 15 Environmentally-Themed Datasets for Hackathon

Here are some great examples of how open data is being used to create civic projects in Philadelphia.

MyPark, an app built at the EcoCampPhilly Hackathon Stormfighter, an app built at the EcoCampPhilly Hackathon

What can we accomplish with a little collaboration? A lot. Last week five City departments released a total of 15 new data sets in support of Azavea’s EcoCamp event. Among those contributing were the Streets Department, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP), Parks and Recreation, and the Water Department.

EcoCamp is a series of events “promoting sustainability and the environment through technology.” Held June 20-22, the events included workshops, an “unconference” (where sessions are led by conference attendees), and a hackathon, a contest for teams of civic hackers to develop software or other technology-driven solutions to the city’s challenges.

The departments’ new datasets were all environmentally-themed. City departments worked hard to release data for EcoCamp. Mining, scrubbing, and releasing data for public consumption are tedious tasks but these efforts are important. Not only does releasing data work…

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GIS Resources: GIS Lounge and Q-GIS

Recently a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page a link to a free course on QGIS, a free open-sourced GIS software package.  I was so excited to see this as I have been really interested in this software but haven’t been able to find a tutorial for it.  I tried to find some stuff on YouTube there was nothing there that would help out a new user.  This course is being offered by Canvas By Instructure, a start-up founded in 2008  that colleges and universities use to offer online classes.  I signed up for the Q-GIS course which is at your own pace.  I liked this idea because it’s hard for me to juggle assignments with all that i have going on in my everyday life.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes.  For more info go to GIS Lounge a really cool site that keeps GIS users up-to-date on everything going on in the GIS world.

Coming Soon: Review of Tableau Public version 8.2

One of the things that I have been meaning to work is visualizing data for this blog. I am a visual person and I find it easier to look at a graph or map than stare at a report. Luckily, there are a lot of sites that cater to the data visualization crowd. The one that I plan on testing is called Tableau Public (the free one) version is 8.2.  Tableau is a data visualization software that allows you to use Excel spreadsheets, Access databases or text files to produce charts, graphs and maps that can be added to the web.  I have yet to try it out.  I am still at the stage of watching the introductory YouTube videos.  Once I get it up and running, I’ll post my progress under the Projects portion on the blog.  If you have used Tableau before please feel free to leave a comment.  I’d love to hear the plus and minuses of your experience.

Resource: Your Local Public Library

One of the most overlooked places to go to get assistance for data for your research is the public library.  With the popularity if the internet, people sometimes forget about the utilizing their local public library as a resource.  I always promote libraries to clients because they have access to  things that you may not find online.  All you really need is a library card and you can take advantage of tools that are paid for by your tax dollars.  Also, business /non-profit librarians are subject matter experts, they can show you how to use the library to your advantage.  They can grant you access to databases/magazine that need subscriptions and many offer free workshops and bring in guest speakers.   So check out your neighborhood library and stop by the reference desk and strike up a conversation with the librarian.  It’s like sitting with a consultant for free.  Now who doesn’t like that!

ReferenceUSA.  The premier source of business and residential information for reference and research.

The Regional Foundation Center informs the local nonprofit sector through research, resources and referrals.

 

 

Business Plan in a Day: Book Review

A few months ago I was browsing at a local bookstore looking for something interesting to pick-up.  Lately I’ve been very interested in Business topics because I hope to convert this blog into a money generating stream.  I stumbled upon a book called “Business Plan In A Day”, by Rhonda Abrams.  It promises to help the reader create a business plan.  The author says that it will take 24 hours  (non-consecutive 24 hours because you will have to do some research) to get craft your plan). The book covers  “The Anatomy  of a Business Plan”  (9 steps total) and has a chapter devoted to each step.  I’m going to specifically review Step 3 which is about understanding your Target Market.

This is a great chapter because the author points out some resources that are free such as census data to show your customer demographics. She also mentions reading market and industry reports, researching trends and using customer surveys to get a good grasp of your market.

This section goes over:

  • Targeting your market location and reach your target market
  • Describing the demographic characteristics of your target customers
  • Explaining customer patterns/motivations
  • Determining market size
  • Evaluating market trends

I found the book very easy to understand. It is laid out in a way that you can work on each chapter independently so that you don’t become overwhelmed with the process.  There are worksheets that can be filled out by hand the reader can keep notes in one place for reference later on.   Ms. Abrams doesn’t illustrate how to access the data so a tutorial on the process would have been helpful.

You can find the book here and wherever books are sold.

Demographic Data Resources (US and International)

One crucial part of a business plan or a grant is the section on who your potential customer base/client base is. This information is vital to your bottom line whether you’re reaching out for funding or pricing your services to customers.

Why spend a ton of money having someone else crunch numbers and send you a report that you can create on your own for little to no money. How so? By using data that is already available. One of the most widely used sources of data on people is census data. You can get all types of stuff  including income, education, languages spoken, family composition many times down to the neighborhood level. Sometimes it does take a little work to understand what you are looking at but I guarantee that the info that you find will be very eye-opening. Imagine you want to know the income level of an area because you are thinking about opening a business or want to get funding for a grant to help children receive after school tutoring. Demographic data can help you find the best place to serve your community or open your business.

Here are some websites that you can peruse to see what data is available.

US Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov
Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/start-debut-eng.html
United Kingdom Office for National Statistics: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/index.html
Mexico Census (site is in Spanish): http://www.inegi.org.mx/

Showing that you have really done your homework can make your proposition stand our from among the crowd. And with all the competition out there who doesn’t want any advantage they can get?

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Free Data At Your Fingertips.

open govt wordleThere are many sources of free data that are available from the internet and brick and mortar places (like libraries) that most of the public aren’t aware of. When writing a business plan or a grant it’s best to have data behind your idea that will make your project stand out from your competition.  And if you are like most of us, you have a limited time and budget for research.  I’m going to show you what resources are out there, how to find them and how to get the most out of them.  We’ll be exploring government data sources, books that you need to read and websites to bookmark.  Feel free to send me your tips and tricks.  Looking forward to seeing how far your ideas can grow!