Data Lens: Powerful Insights for Your Data

May 05, 2015 by Melissa Crowe

Data Lens: Powerful Insights for Your Data

Over the last two years Socrata has been hard at work to create a new accessible, visual way to display and explore open data. On April 28, 2015 we officially announced the newest open data platform experience: Data Lens.

Data Lens pages uses a unique, dynamic format to display data to everyday users in a way that is both contextual and visually interesting. A Data Lens page can be added to existing Socrata open data portals in minutes using standard datasets that already exist in the data catalog. These datasets display using unique "cards", or display formats, that can interact with each other. Data Lens pages are intuitive and enable users to more easily understand the insights behind the numbers.

The Data Lens Experience

For example, a Data Lens page that summarizes a food inspection dataset might show the information as a bar graph, a line graph, and on a map. If the user clicks on a section of the map, the bar graph and line graph cards will become contextual, filtering the information based on the selected map area. With these tools users are able to truly explore data in a way that is both interactive and accessible for all visitors.


The development of Data Lens has been an iterative process, and feedback from customers is incorporated into the new product. More than half of our customers participated in Data Lens development trials, which included more than 79 customer feedback interviews.

We conducted an unprecedented number of usability studies during the design process with the mandate to create the industry's most accessible user interface. To reach that goal, we had to process hundreds of support tickets and make more than 150 changes to the Data Lens page design to incorporate customer feedback. As a result, the official release of Data Lens has been built from the ground up to meet all of the transparency and ease-of-use expectations of our customers and their citizens.


See Data Lens in Action

If you would like to experience the new Data Lens pages, check out the videos below.

Watch Abhi Nemani, Chief Data Officer for Los Angeles, talk about his first impressions of the new Data Lens tool.

Socrata Customers Using Data Lens

Abhi Nemani, Chief Data Officer for Los Angeles, said of the new experience, "There's always been a bit of a barrier with getting the data into the hands of the regular citizen who might not be technical. […] What's great about the new Data Lens tool, and the other visualization tools that are coming out, is it actually makes it more actionable for people who are non-technical to understand what is happening."

The first public Data Lens page was created by the State of Connecticut on April 22, 2015. Six other city, county, and state data portals quickly followed Connecticut's lead, including the cities of Seattle, Santa Monica, and Chicago, as well as the State of Hawaii. Today, more than 26 Data Lens pages exist on open data portals across North America. The City of Chicago describes the new Data Lens tools in a blog post to show constituents how to explore data in a visual and contextual way.

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