Enhancing transparency and proactively distributing information to the citizens of Weatherford was a priority for the Weatherford City Council during the fiscal 2013 budget process last summer.The City staff proposed, and the Council approved utilizing an open data platform called Socrata to help with this goal. According to Chad Janicek, Director of Management and Budget for the city, Socrata hosts all kinds of datasets online."It provides convenient access for the public to view, filter, sort, chart, map and download the data," Janicek said. "We have slowly rolled out a variety of the high-value datasets which are frequently requested by the public.“Those datasets include historical permit activity, intake records at the animal shelter, budget and financial information. More datasets will be available in the very near future."Simply put, the Socrata program will serve as a common warehouse for the city’s data, which allows the city to break free from the "data silos" that are often created by the vast array of software packages that the city uses.Weatherford has been recognized by the State Comptroller’s office as a strong advocate of financial transparency. Socrata allows the city to enhance those efforts by opening up other types of data for public consumption. Citizens will now have access to all of the data posted, and can filter, chart, map and download them in a variety of formats.Several major cities and government organizations use Socrata. Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, New York and smaller cities as well as other states, counties, and federal agencies also use it.Socrata provides many valuable features that the City is already taking advantage of, including embedding datasets directly into the City’s web site."In addition to the improvements in transparency, we expect numerous benefits from an operational standpoint", Janicek said. "Before Socrata, all of our data was stored in silos ranging from proprietary software packages and databases to Excel spreadsheets. By putting these datasets in one location, with a standardized way to query the data, we can now find connections among the data that we never knew existed.“We are also able to build analytical tools to help the City operate more efficiently. These tools will help control costs in the future, and were simply not possible without a comprehensive data solution like Socrata."