More and more city agencies are releasing their data to the public. However, the average person would find it difficult to understand or draw meaningful conclusions from the available data. A new website, DataUSA, wants to provide information about jobs, housing, demographics, and education in a simple and visual format that everyday citizens can use and benefit from. DataUSA is an open-source visualization platform launched by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Labs and Deloitte (consulting & auditing firm) that collects information from varied open data sets for cities, states, and metro areas to create a one-stop shop for information. DataUSA uses visual techniques such as interactive charts and maps to present the economic, demographic, health, education, and housing data it collects.
It’s great that governments have become more transparent with their data but if their data sets continue to be presented in a way that average citizens cannot find useful, then we need to consider making changes to open data portals in order to provide meaning and clarity for users in the future. However, tools like DataUSA is great for citizens as well as working professionals looking for meaningful and well presented data right now. The website can be useful to learn about your current city/state or if you plan to move to, or start a new business venture in another state or city. Information on the site is well organized and easy to manipulate to find answers to your questions. The site offers interactive visualizations about the area chosen which can be shared or downloaded. DataUSA is essentially “taking data that was very deep in the web to the surface of the web” (1) to offer insights to policymakers, average citizens and other professionals who can use the information to tell a compelling story.
(2) Data USA Website: http://datausa.io/