Sacramento County has a wealth of public data just waiting to be tapped into for innovative uses by developers, media and the general public. With the launch of a new website, information on utilities, transportation, public works, finances, permits, demographics, GIS, and many other categories is now available on the Sacramento County Open Data Portal.

“Open data is fairly new to the technology scene, and there are plenty of enterprising private sector individuals who will use this data in pioneering ways.” said Bradley J. Hudson, Sacramento County Executive.  “This is also another step in our ongoing commitment to transparency and improved services.”

Included in the data is information on Outstanding Checks; County-issued checks that have not been claimed or cashed by the payee in six months to two and a half years. Currently, there are roughly 1,300 unclaimed/un-cashed checks, ranging in value from a penny to thousands of dollars.

Also available is the County’s restaurant food facility inspection data, which is the same information used for the Sac Food mobile app/website that allows people to access food inspection data directly from a smart phone.

As of this month, the County’s implementation of open data is one of only 46 US cities and counties to be leading the open data endeavor, according

An inventive example of how the data can be used is the aggregate of data on product recalls from six different government agencies including: Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Agriculture. Now, product recalls can be accessed together in one place on your smart phone.

The County’s data is organized into categories such as Census data, financial data and 311 data.  Various views of the data collections are available including the raw data, and easy to read chart and graph visualizations and the dashboards present different groups of related data together.

Chief Information Officer, Rami Zakaria said, “These raw datasets are organized into themed dashboards and can be transformed into visually-appealing Data Views and Charts that make them easier to understand at a glance. Currently we have 65 open data resources, but we continue to bring new data sets online – this is just the beginning.”

As more of the County’s data is gathered, assessed and converted into the Open Data Portal, new information sets will be continuously added to the website. For instance, soon there will be data views for the County’s budget and business licenses.

This portal, governed by the County’s Open Data Policy makes finding data incredibly quick and easy, using the search and filtering capabilities to select the data sets of interest. All of the information on the website can be used in a variety of ways, from inserting live data into spreadsheets, to easily embedding it into blogs and websites, to accessing it via an easy-to-use application programming interface (API).

Data is the fuel of innovation.