I came across this very cool tool (hat tip: Flowing Data) that allows you to sift through public data easily.
As an example, see what you can do with Unemployment rate throughout the US, broken down into fine granularity by county. The specifics of this particular search matter less than the thought of an aggressive build out of public data into the Google universe.
Here is what the official Google blog had to say about it:
“We just launched a new search feature that makes it easy to find and compare public data. So for example, when comparing Santa Clara county data to the national unemployment rate, it becomes clear not only that Santa Clara’s peak during 2002-2003 was really dramatic, but also that the recent increase is a bit more drastic than the national rate.
The data we’re including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the web. There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers’ salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on. Reliable information about these kinds of things exists thanks to the hard work of data collectors gathering countless survey forms, and of careful statisticians estimating meaningful indicators that make hidden patterns of the world visible to the eye. All the data we’ve used in this first launch are produced and published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau’s Population Division. They did the hard work! We just made the data a bit easier to find and use.
Since Google’s acquisition of Trendalyzer two years ago, we have been working on creating a new service that make lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual exploration. Today’s launch is a first step in that direction. We hope people will find this search feature helpful, whether it’s used in the classroom, the boardroom or around the kitchen table. We also hope that this will pave the way for public data to take a more central role in informed public conversations.
This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more.”
That is very very cool . . .
Adding search power to public data
Googleblog, 4/28/2009 12:17:00 PM
Google Unveils New Tool To Dig for Public Data
Washington Post, April 29, 2009
Google Adds Search to Public Data
Flowing Data, April 28, 2009