New Resource for Tons of Great Data
Every professional in market research should know about and use the amazing, public, free data resources provided by the U.S. government—data that includes essential information about our demographics, communities, businesses, commerce, roads, health, education…the list goes on. Now, a small group of consultants, data scientists, and programmers are trying to make that easier with a new resource called Data USA.
This resource pulls together selected data from the following sources:
- The American Community Survey, for annual population data and demographics
- The Bureau of Economic Analysis, for data on GDP and consumer spending
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for data about occupations and industries
- The University of Wisconsin County Health Rankings, for data about health and medical care
- The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), for data about colleges and universities
- O*NET, for data about skills used in specific occupations
According to the developers, the goal was to build a “comprehensive website and visualization engine of public US Government data” in order to “understand and visualize the critical issues facing the United States in areas like jobs, skills and education across industry and geography.”
Have they succeeded? Not quite, but give it time. The data are not yet comprehensive and there is little ability to customize in the ways we typically need. The site is unfortunately built for mobile devices (why?) so that navigating on a desk top is cumbersome. They make claims about how site’s analytics and visualization engines “transform data into stories” (hey, does that sound familiar?) when they do no such thing.
But if nothing else, this site highlights and points to some of the truly valuable data resources we all have at our disposable: census data, BLS data, commerce data, Department of Education data, etc. In addition, the website’s visualizations are built on D3plus, which is another free resource (just like R) that researchers should know about.
Exploring their efforts may give you great ideas about the data and resources available to answer your next research question even if that means going to the very source (and the raw data) that you never even knew was there.