Local governments have some of the largest stores of publicly available data accessible through their open data portals, yet often face huge challenges when it comes to using that data to address citizen needs.

Entrepreneurs have some of the most creative approaches to solving people’s needs, but face challenges when it comes to gathering the resources necessary to create and power a solution.

Together, governments and entrepreneurs make a good match for solution-oriented collaboration.

Cities, local governments, and entrepreneurs are working together, through hackathons and app challenges, to solve problems and create successful businesses. It’s no surprise to us that the most successful businesses are pairing open data with location intelligence. (something we’ve talked about on our blog before).

Go Code Colorado

Go Code Colorado is a statewide app challenge that brings developers and entrepreneurs together to build better business applications using public data. They also assist state agencies with publishing public data to the state’s open data platform, the Colorado Information Marketplace (CIM)], while championing for the value of public data as a solution to business challenges.

In collaboration with the Business and Licensing Division of Colorado’s Secretary of State Office, the publicly funded challenge, attracts some of the tech industry’s most high profile businesses as sponsors, and differs from the conventional hackathon model by forcing technologists to confront the entrepreneurial aspect of their project directly.

Their model serves as a great example for states looking to leverage open data more effectively and for entrepreneurs contemplating the development of a successful business idea. This year 43 teams (including a group of high-school students) and over 200 participants competed in the challenge.

The Winners

The three teams selected as finalists showed the range of innovation possible when you give creative people a broad challenge. They addressed issues of water discovery and analysis, noise analysis for housing and urban development initiatives, and access to local and sustainable food products, respectively. Long time judge, Ingrid Alongi of Cognizant, a business that specializes in designing and developing custom mobile applications, notes the change and diversity of ideas and applications presented in the last two years of the challenge.

“It’s interesting to see how ideas change based on what’s happening in Colorado. Two years ago teams presented a lot of ideas centered around traffic on I-70 traffic, and this year, many teams focused on helping rural communities as our population in metro regions continue to grow.”

Although the ten finalists’ applications posed distinct business solutions, there was one obvious similarity. Each of the winning applications incorporated a map and publicly available location data in their final product, demonstrating the importance and value of location data and analysis to addressing business challenges.

Below check out how the winning applications used location data to provide value to the Colorado business landscape:

Drip
A team comprised of technical experts, healthcare expertise, and knowledge about the real estate market, representing Colorado Springs, created a platform that helps streamline water data discovery and analysis. The app helps real estate agents, developers, investors, appraisers, and consultants make better business decisions with publicly available water data.

Hud Buddy
This Fort Collins team developed a solution to perform noise analysis for HUD residential projects. Their application helps real estate developers easily comply with federal and state regulations. Traditionally, real estate developers have spent thousands of dollars on noise analysis of potential development sites, often later in the development process. Hud Buddy allows noise analysis to be performed remotely with a click of a button, much earlier in the process.

The Hud Buddy team consists of three cousins with backgrounds in analytics, software development, and government. A fourth member is the team’s subject-matter-expert, with expert knowledge in acoustics.

Magpie Supply
Coming from the state capital, Magpie Supply created an application to help small farmers find under-utilized truck space to lower the cost of transporting goods. They also created a platform to search historic farmers’ market prices on a map, as well as show agriculturalists various markets to identify new selling opportunities.

Location Data Paves the Tech-Entrepreneurial Way

Data is the infrastructure of the digital age. Publicly available data can now illuminate solutions to challenges like no other time in our history. Leveraging location data for business value is just one way of many that organizations and citizens can build sustainable success.

Challenges like Go Code Colorado embolden states and business leaders across the country to:

  1. Create an open data environment in government so businesses can make meaningful use of the public data government manages.
  2. Encourage business development around innovative and sustainable apps that help businesses make better decisions, creating a stronger business environment.

Building successful, sustainable apps with public data that local businesses can actually use requires all kinds of diverse talents and specialization. Go Code Colorado demonstrates the innovation potential when you gather government and industry and engage with creative minds, and we’re excited to be a part of it.