- Some Data is Better Than No Data
It’s been noted that only non-controversial data is currently available, though I’m of the camp that some data is better than no data. I have a feeling the technical team behind this site has big dreams for it, but are being held back by red tape, security issues, politics, and technical limitations. Getting this far, I’m sure, was a monumental task.
- No Live Mash-Ups Just Yet
The site isn’t offering live data right now. I can’t tell if they plan to either, though I imagine they would like to. The data currently comes in XML, CSV/Text, KML/KMZ, and ESRI formats, some of which are in ZIP archives. So no live mash-ups with this data just yet.
- Data Miner’s Wet Dream
People who love data, mining data, crunching data, and analyzing data must love all the great info coming out of (and soonto come out of) Data.gov. It would be cool to see some nice data visualizations or data visualization tools that make use of this data.
- Green Information
If you’re running a green information & services site, perhaps the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) and Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET) datasets could offer some nice additional data for your users.
- Employee Benefits Information
Perhaps a job-related site could use the data from the Benefits Data from the Benefits and Earnings Public Use File for some interesting historical statistics.
- Weather Information
Or how about a site with some data analysis of previous storm patterns? The National Weather Service (NWS) has lots of databases available with this information.
- Patent Information
Under the Tools section, there are pointers to more sources. Unfortunately, these sources don’t offer an easy way to get their data either. Similar to the rest of Data.gov, they offer their data in downloadable ZIP archives instead of live feeds or APIs.
- Census Data
If census data was easy to parse, filter, dissect, and analyze, that would be awesome. Unfortunately, the American FactFinder and DataFerret datasets don’t offer that. Too bad. Someone could create a nice marketing application with this information, I’ll bet.
- Government Contracts
How about a site that crawls through the USA Spending Contracts and Purchases dataset (for historical info) and combines it with the functionality of FedBizOpps.gov and the info at Business.gov? You could concievably create a one-stop shop for companies interested in contracting with the government.
- Government Grants
Or how about doing all that with government grants? You’ve got the USA Spending Grants and Loans dataset for historical info and Grants.gov for the functionality. Applying for grants is a tough business. There are many auxiliary services needed too, such as grant writers, organizational advice, etc. If you combine those services with historical data, perhaps you’ll have a nice full-service solution here.
- Airline Information
Although there are commercial services already offering this info, having data about Airline On-Time Performance and Causes of Flight Delays would be an interesting add-on for sites with travel and airline reviews.
I’m sure there are a lot more ideas that can come from these datasets. And to be fair, another source of government data already exists: USGovXML.com. You’ll find much more here than on Data.gov, and in developer-friendly formats in some cases.
Still, I think Data.gov is off to a great start. I for one am cheering them on. Go Data.gov go!