Several years ago, Far Reach built web applications for the Bi-State Regional Commission and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber (GCVAC) so they could share regional data with their constituents online. Over time, the data became outdated. In addition, they had been developed on the Silverlight platform, a once-cutting edge technology for which Microsoft has since announced an end-of-life (shakes fist at Microsoft).
Technology has made leaps and bounds since the original version of the portal. The coming end of Silverlight support and the massive boost in mobile web access convinced the two economic development organizations it was time for an upgrade.
When we developed the original systems, we built Bi-State’s first, and then built the GCVAC’s. This time around, the two organizations worked together to agree on core functionality, which we applied to both portals. Then we added custom features as needed to the individual portals, including branding and pre-populated reports.
Better Data Management
One of the struggles with the original systems was the tedious data management workflow. Someone in each organization had to be trained periodically to do data upkeep. With the updated system, a primary goal was to improve how the economic development organizations upload and publish data.
A major enhancement in data management came with the use of APIs to pull demographic data. We tapped into the Census Bureau’s API to pull designated data for each organization’s region. We’ll talk more about the technical aspects of this endeavor in another post, but it’s already saving Bi-State and GCVAC time and effort in managing the system by automating some of the data integration.
Easier Data Access
Bi-State and GCVAC have noticed the difference already, and so have data portal visitors. The new data portals are more user-friendly and allow users to more quickly find the data most important to them. Visitors can view, download, and export reports on desktop, tablets, and mobile devices.
Both of the portals are available to the public, so feel free to play around with the custom reports.
Data-driven projects are some of our favorites. If you have data to manage display for your organization, contact us.