Turning Governments into Data Stewards

Great article on why governments should operate as data stewards and focus their resources on making data open so that third parties can incorporate it into their apps.

Civic Innovations

The civic entrepreneurs behind Open Counter recently launched a new service called Zoning Check that lets prospective businesses quickly and easily check municipal zoning ordinances to determine where they can locate a new business.

This elegantly simple app demonstrates the true power of zoning information, and underscores the need for more work on developing standard data specifications between governments that generate similar kinds of data.

In a recent review of this new app, writer Alex Howard contrasts the simple, intuitive interface of Zoning Check with the web-based zoning maps produced by different municipal governments. Zoning Check is obviously much easier to use, especially for its intended audience of prospective business owners. And while this certainly is but one of many potential uses for zoning information, it’s hard to argue with the quality of the app or how much different it is than a standard government zoning map.

But to…

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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

Repost: How to write a business plan in one week.

This afternoon I came across this post from the blog “The Daily Positive”. The author is a speaker and entrepreneur who blogs about social media, positivity and business. I thought that this post on “Writing a Business Plan in a Week” was informative and concise. He shares a data visualization from the Washington State University that I plan on sharing when I am out teaching about data and business plans.

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.

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.

Why I Set Up This Site.

I realized a few days ago that I didn’t write a a post about why I launched this blog.  So I’ll take this opportunity to write about why this blog was created and what you will get out of it.

In my professional life I work with people and organizations who are looking for data to beef up their grants, reports and business plans.  Either they are in the process of starting a business/grant writing or they already have a plan in place and need to fine-tune it.  This is where I come in and educate them on the types of data that are available for them.  I always steer clients towards free data as there is a plethora of them waiting to be used.

So this blog will be a stage to showcase what I have used in the past and what I discover during my own research.  I’ll discuss government data, business data and GIS/mapping resources that I think will be beneficial for the public to be aware of.    So bookmark my site and sign-up for updates,  you won’t want to miss a post!