Socrata 101: Entering a New Dataset


One of the main advantages of Socrata is the ability to share data online using cloud based resources. This data is then available, to all of those with access, which allows for better information based decision-making. Socrata is web-based and is designed for users with a variety of experience. Users can build informative reports with very little experience. These reports can then be provided to those that need them quickly and efficiently.
This Socrata Story will provide a simple walk-through on how to add data into Socrata.

Before you Begin

Before data is added to Socrata it will be important to know all of the details about the data. Some of the questions may be obvious, while others may not be so apparent. It is important to know as much detail, and share those details with the other users, to ensure that others can use the data as well. This included well defined and named columns. Columns can be renamed when added to Socrata, so there is no need to have cryptic codes to represent columns.
Some things to keep in mind:
  • Column details (will others be able to understand the names)
  • Where does the data come from?
  • Who should be contacted about the data?
  • What kind of data is in the dataset being added (text, dates, locations, etc...)?

User Details

Most of the information regarding the user can be found when clicking on the user name. This will open a menu for options that will be crucial for adding datasets, and creating visualizations or stories.

User Menu

This menu contains several options, but the most important for most users will be "My Profile". This option allows the user access to their shared and created data assets.

Data Assets

The data assets page has information about the user and their current activity. All of the data assets can be searched, or viewed by type or category. This page also allows the user to create new stories and datasets.

Creating a Data Set

By choosing this option, Socrata will begin a series of simple steps to identify the dataset that the user would like to add to Socrata.

Location of Data

Socrata can utilize a number of different  sources to obtain data. One can add the data manually, import a file from their computer, or link to an external data source. GIS data can be used as well if locations are given.

Computer Source

Users can choose where the data is being created from, this example uses a computer.

Upload a File from Computer

Socrata uses the common upload process that many different software companies utilize. Choosing "Upload a file" opens a box in which the user can browse their computer's contents. Once the file is identified, choose the file and choose "Next". If using Excel, make sure the file is only one tab, or the first tab (need to verify), it does not allow for a selection of which tab to grab the data.

Data Quality and Information

This page allows the user to examine the columns that are being imported. Users should ensure that the "Name" matches the "Source Column", Socrata matches them most of the time, but not always, so it is a good idea to check. This is also where users can change the column names so that other users can deduce what they represent. Also, this page indicates what the headers will be, it is a good time to make sure that only the rows being used as a header are required.

Reading Data

Be patient, it will start counting rows that are currently being imported. Most datasets do not require much time. If a large dataset is needed to be updated often, other solutions may be employed.

Know Your Data!

This page allows other users to know useful information about the data. A clear concise title with adequate description is needed to engage other users. Other users may search by Category, or keyword, defining these is crucial for other users to find relevant data. Providing source links to the data (when available) can help drive others to useful datasets owned by others. Also, this is where the contact email needs to be provided. Socrata Administrators may need to contact dataset owners to find out if the dataset is still needed or should be updated, and other users may have questions regarding the data and want to know more.

Finished! (Almost)

Choosing finish at this point does import the data into Socrata, but a few more steps are needed before the dataset can be viewed by other users.

Publish the Dataset

This is the final page that is seen before the data is published for others users to view. Typically, this is the last chance to review the data before others will have the chance to use it. Questions to ask: Are the column names understandable, is the data in the correct format? Is all of the data present? Does the data contain sensitive information?

Dataset is Published

The data is now live. The title is on the left and the options on the right are much different now. They now contain items that can be selected to visualize data, add columns, append/replace the data, etc...