In response the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government that President Barack Obama issued upon taking office in 2009, the federal government has made 194,770 datasets publicly available on data.gov. But understanding and gleaning insight from that data can be a challenge for people not accustomed to working with data.
To make that data more accessible, Deloitte, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Macro Connections Group, and Datawheel today launched DataUSA, a free and open platform that collects, analyzes, and visualizes shared U.S. government data.
The DataUSA visualization engine allows all users to browse and filter data and to create visualizations that can reveal patterns and enhance their understanding of national, regional, and local issues. This will enable users to make data-driven decisions about their lives, their work, and their community.
“The U.S. government offers almost 200,000 data sets for public use, often out of reach for the average citizen,” said César Hidalgo, professor at the MIT Media Lab and director of Macro Connections. “DataUSA transforms these datasets into stories, pioneering a new breed of user-friendly government data sites that we urgently need.”
DataUSA presents four profiles, each with specialized sections: geographies, occupations, education, and industries. Visualizing the government datasets in this way can provide unprecedented insights into the current conditions of American life, including real estate prices, home ownership rates, health and disease patterns, employment, education levels, job growth, income levels, and wage distribution by region and industry.
DataUSA is freely available and users can browse the data and gain insights using filters or target their view using search tools. In addition, the code is open source and the platform is scalable, allowing for new data to be added. Application developers can build on the DataUSA platform using the API and integrate additional data for custom use.
“Accessible, easy-to-use open government data can have significant economic and societal benefits,” said Dr. Patricia Buckley, director of economics at Deloitte Services LP. “DataUSA provides the tools to transform data into millions of stories about America – its people, places, industries, occupations, skill sets and educational institutions – to better understand our populations, visualize critical national issues, and improve how we live and work both today and in the future.”
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