- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014

DURANGO, Colo. (AP) - Go Code Colorado is asking computer coders for help in organizing the state’s vast stores of data.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Business Intelligence Center and the Governor’s Office are sponsoring Go Code Colorado with the goal of making government data more accessible and helpful to businesses.

Go Code Colorado is hosting a contest in which winning application developer will get $25,000. Two finalists from each of five regions, including Durango, will advance to a final round in Denver.

“The state collects a lot of data … but it’s just sitting there not helping the business community,” said Elaine Marino, an organizer.

Go Code Colorado hopes to make the state’s data more available to businesses looking to relocate, raise capital or connect to higher education, the Durango Herald reported (http://tinyurl.com/lc4vvmj).

The program is organized as a contest. Challenge Weekend will be March 21-23 in Durango, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Grand Junction. Participants in each city will form teams on site the first day. The top two apps from each location will advance to Denver, receiving mentoring along the way.

On May 9, the developers of the first-place app will win $25,000, with $15,000 for second place and $10,000 for third place.

The program aims to make government data sets, which organizers acknowledge can be notoriously hard to work with, more accessible and widely available.

Businesses have expressed particular interest in demographic data, labor market data and business registrations. Want population projections through 2040? The Department of Local Affairs has them.

Go Code Colorado has a $750,000 budget for this year and $1.5 million for next year. The program is funded by registration fees paid by businesses to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

The program also aims to look for tech talent outside of the Denver area.

“If you look around the state, there are tech clusters that are undervalued,” said Brian Gryth, program manager for the Business Intelligence Center. “Durango is one of those.”

Go Code Colorado is modeled on NYC BigApps and other apps challenges that covered smaller geographic areas.

Organizers are optimistic Go Code Colorado can change how users access government information.

“We’re focused on getting as much data out as we can from all government agencies,” Gryth said.