Peeking Through

Data.govNeat, launched today! As soon as I read about it, I clicked over to check it out. A few things caught my eye:

  • 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) 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

    Interesting, there’s a Patent Grant Bibliographic Data dataset. It’s got nothing on Google Patents though.

  • Tools

    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, 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 and the info at 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 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: You’ll find much more here than on, and in developer-friendly formats in some cases.

Still, I think is off to a great start. I for one am cheering them on. Go go!

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

3 thoughts on “Peeking Through”

  1. @Interpreneur: If they offered the demographic data in a more dynamic fashion (e.g. using animated charts and real-time filtering options), with downloadable reports, that would be cool. Nice find though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *