SD Spins Off New Local Government Venture
CORALVILLE, IA, February 3, 2014 -- Structured
Dynamics (SD) today announced that, in association with
partners, it was spinning off a new software company, Civic Dynamics Inc.,
headquartered in Québec City, Canada. Included in the launch
was the introduction of the company’s new Civic Dynamics
Platform (CDP), open-source software and supporting systems
that the company claims may assist municipalities to not only
publish open government data, but also to provide a set of
dynamic tools that will afford all citizens the opportunity to
easily view, mix and match, and analyze the data.
In developing CDP, Civic Dynamics brought together a range of resources to tackle the delivery of open data in a new dynamic and interactive way, working in partnership with two collaborating US companies, Structured Dynamics and Buzzr.
“Civic Dynamics takes open government data to entirely new levels,” said Michael Bergman, CEO of Structured Dynamics. “Citizens need easy tools to analyze the mountains of available open government data. CDP is the first provider of dynamic open data technology that lets citizens see what government data is implementation methodologies and tools mean local governments and related organizations can manage dynamic open data portals on their own. CDP's tight integration of Drupal 7 also means the platform can be extended into or combined with other local government website content management or web portal needs. CDP also works as an effective front-end for community indicator systems or integrated analytical frameworks, proven in the domains of sustainability, economic development, and community involvement.
“With CDP’s charts, tables, graphs, maps, images and stories, you can easily and visually combine any piece of existing data together and study their connectedness,” said Goldstrand. “When viewed in this inter-related way they become a basis for action. The platform also promotes citizen engagement vis-à-vis citizen contributions of data, sharing of community calendar events, commentary and journalism regarding current local issues. It provides a mechanism for citizens to actively participate in developing local community-based solutions.”
“If open data and citizen engagement are to become integral parts of community services, they must be achieved within today’s tight budget constraints,” said Ed Sussman, CEO of Buzzr.com. “Municipal website and web portals that are less expensive to design and implement, and cheaper to maintain, are the best choice for spreading the accessibility of the open data movement.”
In its packaged open-source offering, CDP leverages the tools of:
- Drupal 7, an open-source framework for content management;
- Structured Dynamic’s Open Semantic Framework (OSF) 3.0;
- MUNI, a basic local government ontology to jump-start a new installation; and
- Buzzr’s All-in-One solution built on Drupal, to design, develop and run social-media rich websites with on demand, one-click Quickstart website clones.
After set-up, Civic Dynamics offers a range of customization, development, and tailoring services to local governments and community organizations.
Goldstrand Heads Business Development
Goldstrand was the company's first hire as Director of Business Development. Ms. Goldstrand has extensive experience in local government management. Her career focus has been on service planning, delivery and evaluation in the area of community health, protection and development. Ms. Goldstrand was formerly the project manager for the NOW (Neighbourhoods of Winnipeg) portal, one of the early installations of the predecessor software to the Civic Dynamics technology.
"We are thrilled to have someone of Kelly's experience and personality," said Bergman. "She understands the Civic Dynamics platform from top to bottom and knows municipal government like the back of her hand. In fact, her guidance was pivotal in bringing the Civic Dynamics offering to its current state of maturity," he added.
Ms. Goldstrand helped shepherd the capabilities of the Civic Dynamics platform from initial formulation to its current operational status within the City of Winnipeg. She has nearly three years of experience with the platform. She was instrumental in coordinating municipal inputs into the software and mentoring its development to city management and staff.
"My entire career has been built around understanding data and communicating it to local stakeholders," Ms. Goldstrand said. "I am passionate about extending the Civic Dynamics application to other North American cities. I'm excited about helping other municipalities and community organizations to build knowing communities. I know first hand that the time is now ripe to open up local government data," she added.
Ms. Goldstrand resides in Winnipeg, MB Canada. She will be running Civic Dynamics' business development from that location.
Buzzr Partnership Helps Kickoff the Venture
Early development efforts for the venture were greatly aided by Buzzr, a NYC-based company dedicated to quick and affordable Web portal customizations based on Drupal. "We've been in discussions with SD [Structured Dynamics] for about 18 months looking at this opportunity," said Ed Sussman, Buzzr's CEO. "Early on we identified local governments as a needful market for affordable, Web portal customization and theming, and found SD to have the most advanced technology for managing and publishing local government data. Though there are some early entrants in this market, the vast local government potential is untapped," he said.
Bergman of Structured Dynamics also noted his company had been seeking a partner to make the process of setting up local government portals quicker and more affordable. "We can set up a local community with data management and visualization capabilities fairly rapidly," Bergman said. "But the cost and sticking point we often see is in getting the portal itself set up and themed to meet the local government's requirements," he added.
Bergman also noted that Buzzr's use of Drupal was a critical factor in negotiating the partnership. "Our current software already runs on Drupal and it is a perfect environment for tailoring to local government needs," said Bergman. "The Buzzr-SD combo works on all technical and market levels, plus we found the Buzzr team to share our vision about where the market is going."
The two companies did not disclose the financial terms of the arrangement. Both indicated they saw the need for early clients to help cement the capabilities between the two offerings.
Two initial flagship installations, powered by pre-release versions of CDP, include:
NOW (Neighbourhoods of Winnipeg) - The City of Winnipeg, the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada, released in 2013, its "NOW" portal celebrating its diverse and historical 236 neighborhoods. The NOW portal is one of the largest releases of open data by a local government to date, with some 57 varied datasets now available ranging from local neighborhood amenities such as pools and recreation centers, to detailed real estate and economic development information. Nearly one-half million individual Web pages comprise the site, driven exclusively by semantic technologies.
PEG - a Community Indicators System – built with the United Way of Winnipeg and IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development). Via PEG, the citizens of Winnipeg learn how their life, their neighbourhood and their city is changing – for the good and the bad, via the presentation and analysis of community indicators of sustainability.
About Civic Dynamics
Civic Dynamics is dedicated to the development and deployment of software platforms that support the sharing of open data and promote citizen engagement, geared to help build healthy communities. The Civic Dynamics Platform (CDP) is a tool for managing dynamic open data. The company Web site is at http://civic-dynamics.com; it was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Québec City, QC.
About Structured Dynamics LLC
Structured Dynamics assists enterprises and non-profit organizations to adopt Web-accessible and interoperable semantic data. The basic premise is that the data itself becomes the application. Via structured, linked data and a combination of semantic technologies and Web services, information in any form and from any source can now be integrated and made interoperable. The company Web site is at http://structureddynamics.com; it is headquartered in Coralville, IA.
The professionals behind Buzzr have built hundreds of well-known websites, including the Sony Artist websites, MarthaStewart.com, FastCompany.com and Grammy.com. Our expertise ranges from the latest in open source technology, to best practices in user experience, to pioneering social media. We came together in 2008 to make it easier for more people and organizations to access the spectacular website tools of Drupal. In the process, we've helped transform open source Drupal and created tools used by more than 100,000 websites. The company Web site is at http:/buzzr.com; it is headquartered in NYC.
Structured Dynamics LLC
Email: mike at structureddynamics dot com