Addressing Data Inequality — Starting a Public Dialogue about High Value Data

The Department of Commerce is on a mission to “democratize” our data — advance equal access to data in America — and promote data equality.

When we have been talking about data inequality — a critical question has been, “Which particular data sets should we use, and for what?”

Today, we are releasing a curated list of some high-value data sets from across Commerce Bureaus. If more easily accessible, these data sets would greatly advance the public good. You’ll find a list with links here, but over the next few days and weeks, we will also be releasing this list through other, more interactive forums to start a public conversation around high-value government data.

We’ll be asking:

  • Which other data sets — including outside the Department of Commerce — should we and the public be focused upon?
  • How are others using this data?
  • What could these data sets be used for?

We need broader input to curate a real list of valuable and usable data, both from government experts and others outside the government.

Starting this conversation is part of our call to action to developers and data scientist to help with the “last mile” problem — to build applications and business intelligence tools on top of our APIs to solve specific problems faced by those who are “data poor,” such that we can scale the use of these tools.

The use of these accessible data sets is limited only by your imagination. From our perspective, we will have substantial progress in data equality when, for example:

  • A small charity operates in an underserved area, leverages our income, demographic, and other community data to better understand audiences, targets information and services more effectively, and raises funds more efficiently;
  • A mid-market building materials distributor evaluates a door frame purchase, reviews import/export data, and finds new potential places for purchasing frames; and
  • A public defender in California chooses a jury and accesses the same demographic data used by jury consultants in commercial cases.

We look forward to seeing what you come up with to help advance data equality.

Feel free to reach out to Justin@doc.gov with any ideas or questions.

Thanks for reading.

Justin Antonipillai — Counselor to Secretary Penny Pritzker, with the Delegated Duties of the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs