The City of Raleigh’s Open Data Program is working with other municipalities on a pilot to make a sustainable marketplace for applications using open government data. The sustainable marketplace is based on the concept of a two-sided marketplace.


The two-sided markets, also called two-sided networks, are economic platforms having two distinct user groups that provide each other with network benefits. The organization that creates value primarily by enabling direct interactions between two (or more) distinct types of affiliated consumers. In this case governments will benefit by being able to join a network of other governments in releasing data sets to the public. Developers will benefit by having a homogenous market space and a larger consumer base in which to create applications. Citizens benefit from being able to easily consume data.

The overall goal of this proposed project is to create a smart Platform for Open Innovation and Sustainable Entrepreneurship (POISE) that overcomes the innovation barriers and creates an associated ecosystem in Nashville and five other partner cities (Albuquerque, Boston, Palo Alto, Raleigh, and San Francisco) guided by Vanderbilt University and Socrata.

The goal is for these cities to serve as a pilot from January-June 2014 that can subsequently be scaled online for any jurisdiction and any developer to participate through the POISE platform. The platform will overcome these innovation barriers by transitioning and incorporating the following key prior research endeavors from the Institute for Software Integrated Systems at Vanderbilt University:

The use of model-driven engineering and generative development to reduce the cost and complexity of building open government data apps significantly and automated constraint-based model analysis to identify similar apps and find communities of users and customers interested in particular data sets or app capabilities.

The platform powered by Socrata and used by the cities is the key. The platform is analogous to other marketplaces such as the Apple App Store.

The POISE platform will facilitate a 2-sided market that allows developers to construct apps rapidly and then simplify distribution by automatically recommending potential test users, customers, and developers to them. POISE will provide web-based tools where users can construct models of apps using custom modeling languages. The POISE platform will also provide code generators that automatically synthesize code to realize the modeled apps on mobile app platforms (such as iOS, Android, and hybrid HTML5-based platforms) and connect the apps to required open government data sets.

Components of the Platform:

Apps will automatically be recommended to users, developers, venture capitalists, and customers based on their role in the ecosystem and past app interactions.

Key communities can be identified by grouping users, customers, and developers based on the types of apps that they use or purchase, as well as the types of open government datasets that the apps leverage. For example, if a user is already regularly opening and leveraging a transit app, they may also be a good potential user of another transit app.

Data sets underlying apps can be used to identify potential communities in the marketplace. For example, if a user already has an app that lists local parks and reads from a “park data feed,” they may also be interested in another app that allows users to reserve park resources, such as pavilions if that app also reads from the “park data feed.” Similarly, developers that have already constructed an app using the “park data feed” or a specific user interface component will likely be potential productive contributors to other apps that use similar data feeds or user interface components. The key innovation that will make this smart community formation possible is the use of model-driven engineering to build apps and automated constraint-based model analysis to calculate app model similarity, which can then be used to isolate groups of users, customers, and developers with common data and app interests.

Costs, as it relates to the grant, would be associated with any future project that cities would want to participate in. This is framed as an opt-in and case by case basis for this platform pilot.

There are no-cost obligations now or in the future

No city is obligated to spend anything through a letter of support. Raleigh would only need to consider some cost if we want to participate in the "online civic marketplace". Raleigh may endeavor to pay to for a prototype in tandem with other cities. The other five cities have agreed that any project would not exceed $5,000.00. This, again, is an option.

The app challenge has recently concluded during the National Day of Civic Hacking. Open Raleigh, Palo Alto, and Boston will be mentoring teams and seek to adopt applications that participated in the challenge.

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