Namara 5.0

Written by Lewis Wynne-Jones

October 3, 2017
We first launched Namara three years ago, and it looks a lot different now from how it did then. Back then, our plan was to build an app that connected to all the open data portals in North America. We called the uber-portal Namara, and launched with a few hundred sources and a couple thousand data sets.

After that we refined the onboarding process so Namara could handle more portal types, update the data automatically, and standardize the open data as it came in. When we heard from people that they wanted the open data merged with other data, we built a tool (Unity) to bring together open data and merge it on the fly. When people asked to transform the data, we improved Unity to allow for enrichments like geocoding and standardization. The data that came out of these projects led to the creation of a data marketplace on Namara, a place where people were able to connect to high-value data that was refined to meet their needs.

The fact of the matter is that we’ve been thinking about the best way to make public data useful for a long time, and we’ve built a suite of tools and features that are pushing the envelope and helping everyone from civic hackers to business leaders get more out of their data.

The only problem was that we were pretty bad at telling people about it.

This is understandable, to an extent, because while a lot of people are using data and relying on it to make intelligent decisions, the dialogue surrounding open and external data is still pretty young. We feel like it’s kind of the wild west out there right now, and since we’re trying to shape the landscape as much as the conversation there’s not a lot of time left for advocacy.

Our new site aims to show the ways that we’re using data and who we’re working with – presenting use cases that will help anyone from a data newbie to a C-Suite executive start to think creatively about what problems can be solved by data.

But the site is really still just a window into the application itself, and we’re thrilled to announce that Namara 5.0 is more powerful than ever. The core element of the app, the open data, is still there – and there’s a lot more of it. We’ve recently been expanding into the UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, which has presented a number of challenges that we’re eager to meet. We now sit on top of over 2000 sources and are connected to hundreds of thousands of data sets. We’ve completely reworked our ELR pipeline to handle a greater variety of data and we’ve redesigned Unity, making it immeasurably more powerful, in order to eventually provide it as a standalone tool that users can connect to themselves.

Ultimately, the best way to get a feel for the new changes of scenery is to take a look around, and if you’ve got any questions about how everything came together we’d love to hear from you

But for a walk-through of the site and it’s more noticeable improvements, 5.0’s tireless product manager Jordan Bibla has provided a helpful overview here.