Data Coalition Explore Open Data with Arkansas

On April 4th of this year, DataTracks was invited to a unique event in the state of Arkansas.  Upon invitation from the Arkansas Open Data and Transparency Task Force (AODTTF) and as a partner member of the Data Coalition, DataTracks participated in discussions that will lead to a unique legislative proposal by year end.

The AODTTF has a mission “to determine the best practices for the State to achieve the most efficient system for maintaining and delivering the State’s public records and data.”  The Task Force is a one-of-a-kind body, established by law including state legislators, representatives of the Governor and Attorney General, and the leadership of most of the state’s largest agencies. The Task forces job, by year end, is to recommend an open data law to the Arkansas legislature.  Given the very clear mandate, the committee gather together the industry leading companies to present alternative methods for delivering the task force objectives.

DataTracks was honored to present to the AODTTF their world-wide experience especially in the United Kingdom.  Pramodh Vittal of DataTracks told the task force that the UK tax authority, HMRC, simplified reporting for millions of companies by adopting the inline XBRL (“iXBRL”) open data format. This format is both human-readable and machine-readable, which means it can fulfill document-based reporting requirements while also empowering analytics software. Here are the highlights of the talk:

  • DataTracks has the experience and the resources to help states get projects up and going fast. Their iXBRL solution eliminates the need for learning the details of XBRL while keeping all the benefits in place.

iXBRL provides

  • preventive validation
  • Modular windows
  • Easy plug-in of new taxonomy
  • Easily scalable to new tax/accounting regulations
  • Easy identification of tags
  • Multiple output formats for review
  • Low cost, high quality solution


Mr. Vittal’s presentation (See the full presentation here) showed how software helps companies easily report their financial information in iXBRL.  Vittal spoke about how the UK tax authority, HMRC, changed the way millions companies report by adopting the inline XBRL (iXBRL) open data format. As we have examined here, iXBRL solves many of the problems presented by structured data.  First, it makes data available to multiple consumers of data without changing formats.  Second, it allows a company to create one source of data that can be used to meet multiple reporting needs.

One of the conference attendees were surprised to learn of the internal government benefits of open data.  States and Federal agencies who have adopted open data remarked that they could not imagine going back to a system where this data was not available in digital format.  Additionally, agencies who have adapted the iXBRL format found they did not have to invest the time to have users understand the technology and could begin receiving benefits right away.  Make no mistake, government insiders are driving this movement as they become the consumers of data with a clearer understanding of the meaning behind the numbers.

Hudson Hollister, speaking about the benefits for open data recently stated,

“When government information is expressed as open data, it can be republished for better transparency outside government, analyzed for better management within government, and automated for cheaper reporting to government,” said Hudson Hollister, executive director of the Data Coalition, in the Coalition’s media statement. “Our Coalition members’ technologies (including DataTracks) can do all those things, but only if the information is expressed as open data instead of disconnected documents.”

Let’s work on a project together.  DataTracks can help your State government or agency achieve the benefits outlined above and more.  Give us a call to find out how we can help you.