Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Very cool and useful US Government Web Site

The US Government has launched a web site making many government data sets available in one place, so you don't have to search through many individual federal agency web sites to find them. More than 300,000 data sets are available on the site, data.gov. And the USG is opening platforms so that developers can create apps.

The site also links to some of the best apps. One called "Visualizing Community Health Data" allows users to plug in a series of parameters such as infant mortality or life expectancy and get a state-by-state or county-by-county visual depiction. I tried "uninsured" in New York, and got a compelling graphic showing thorough insurance coverage throughout the state -- except in Brooklyn and Queens. See the graphic, below. Note that lighter colors represent larger values.



Another app, called the "National Obesity Comparison Tool," lets users compare obesity rates on a county basis with national averages. Pick a state, then float your cursor over a county, and get statistics reflecting obesity, cigarette smoking, exercise, and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Try looking at Monroe County in Indiana (a green spot in the lower center of the state) and compare it to the counties around it.

Data.gov even comes with its own metrics -- federal agency participation, visitors and downloads, and a place to request more data sets. The latter includes a graphic showing what has happened to the 900 suggestions in the first six months of the site's existence.

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