Rhode Island opens State database

Rhode Island's Secretary of State is using RSS to provide real-time access for users of the office's databases, greatly increasing the way they can use the information contained in the databases.

Users previously could download or print static snapshots of the databases, which list such things as who is lobbying at the State House and what businesses have been incorporated in the state. But getting timely updates of new information posted to the databases was time-consuming and cumbersome.

The new RSSonate (pronounced "resonate") system enables users to get that new information almost as soon as it is posted to the databases, through browser-based RSS aggregators.

The system also expands the ways that users can exploit the information, said Secretary of State Matt Brown, because they can now easily combine data from various databases to generate the views they want.

Brown said his office is finalizing an open meetings database that will contain electronic meetings of all state and local government offices, which could also make it easier for individual cities to better organize local information.

RSSonate will allow officials in the city of Providence, for example, to pull all of their municipal meeting notices from the system and post them online so city residents can track anything from city council meetings to zoning board meetings.

The secretary's office is also working on a way to enable users of RSSonate to create specific SQL queries so they can build even more personalized database statements, said Paul Tencher, a spokesman.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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