Check Out a New Hub for U.S. Public Data

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Interested in working with government datasets, but put off by the prospect of picking through large, often outdated government Websites? A new Website, Data USA, aims to make all that delicious data much easier to access.

Self-billed as “the most comprehensive website and visualization engine of public US Government data,” Data USA is the product of economists, data scientists, and developers working in conjunction with auditing firm Deloitte, data-visualization firm Datawheel, and a professor at MIT Media Lab.

The Website is built for rapid insight. For example, type a city into the homepage’s search bar (i.e., “Boise,”), and you’ll land on an expertly designed screen displaying that location’s vital stats, including population, median household income, and median age; clicking on the offered icons, including ‘Economy’ and ‘Demographics,’ will unspool further information.

For those interested in visualizations, there are further tabs for maps (available visualizations include average salary, average age, and much, much more); descriptions of the underlying data (from sources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the University of Wisconsin County Health Rankings (CHR)); and “stories” that offer insights into particular aspects of the data.

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For developers, the Website also offers an API (cross-posted on GitHub) that will “show data across various levels of detail, called sumlevels.” The four “core” categories include occupations, industries, educational studies, and geographies.

Although Data USA is unlikely to draw hard-core data scientists who may prefer working directly with original datasets from the BLS and other agencies, it could prove a good starting point for tech pros interested in dataset analysis, or anyone building a Website in which they’d like to surface some aspect of population data.