Wolfram Data Summit: Alan Vander Mallie, From Data.gov

Next presentation I heard was Alan Vander Mallie, from Data.gov. First off, I had the chance to speak briefly with Alan – he is from Upstate NY too, so bonus points for Alan. Alan started off by providing the audience of what data.gov is doing and giving us a preview of what’s next for data.gov.

Empowering People with Data—Data.gov: What’s Now and What’s Next

Alan Vander Mallie

Data.gov Program Manager, U.S. General Services Administration

Data discovery, visualization, and exploration are keys to empowerment for people all over the world. Although scientists, researchers, analysts, economists, media, and programmers are all interested in and routinely download government data, the technically untrained citizen or public constituent prefers online interactive exploration and visualization of data rather than downloading. As the nation’s front door to U.S. data, Data.gov advances the shared understanding and ingenuity of citizens and keeps government accountable. The first national effort of its kind, Data.gov “democratizes data” and puts it to work in the American people’s hands. One operating principle of Data.gov is to meet the public’s need for information and knowledge by making data available online using intuitive and familiar web standards for searching, browsing, visualizing, and sharing information. By streamlining publishing, Data.gov is making it easier for agencies to contribute high-value data. By providing more and better data for analysts, journalists, and researchers, Data.gov is leading the development of apps and reports for people to make better-informed decisions.

Presentation Overview:

Alan gave an overview of the 3 magic words of the Open Government Initiative – transparency, participation and collaboration. He described how data.gov is meeting each part of the initiative. Alan also mentioned apps with data.gov and how they have become a virtual catalogue for people to mine data.

Alan had a great graphic showing how data empowers people and how many people are reached with data.gov. He also mentioned that data.gov is in the cloud to assist in collaboration. Alan mentioned how the focus is at the data layer to encourage sharing across agencies. The hope is that through data.gov a more collaborative government is created, and creates a knowledge management network across agencies.

Data.gov is also encouraging agencies to share performance and mission data to become more transparent.

  • Break down stovepipes
  • Instant access
  • Data that can be manipulated and mashed up
  • Encourages development of innovative applications
  • Tools that Provide Access to Complex Data Stores
  • Widgets

Creating a Participatory Government

Government makes it easier for information to be found and downloaded. Data.gov is currently focusing on metadata searching and API’s, to simply access for developers and publishers. Alan expressed how data could be accessed in multiple formats for developers to create new applications.

Alan mentioned what a difficult task it is to create and implement open government plans, and how to use data and make it available to the public.

Alan mentioned that current data is focus on collecting, transforming, integrating, storing and reporting data. What is evolving in government is an emphasis on exploring, visualizing, analyzing, communication and monitoring forecasting and decision-making. Alan mentioned the power of visualizations for people who may not be familiar with data and improving the experience for user.

Data.gov also supports global events, one of the examples was earthquake and radiation monitoring by data.gov after the tsunami in Japan. Alan brought some incredible statistics about growth at data.gov – total datasets in May 2009 was 47 and today it is at 400,184. Alan advised to “Think Big, Start Small, and Innovate.”

Alan says that he hopes to engage states and countries that already are operating on the Socrata platform or have open data sets to easily do mashups across platforms. Alan closed with giving some insights to what is next in terms of data, the goal is making it easy to explore government data and allow citizens to drill down and find the information they are looking for. Another interesting presentation at the Wolfram Summit.

More From the Wolfram Data Summit:

Wolfram Data Summit: Ian O’Brien, Branch Chief of the US Census Bureau

Wolfram Data Summit: Lynn Etheredge, Director: Rapid Learning Project, George Washington University

Wolfram Data Summit: Timothy Vaughan, PatientsLikeMe

Wolfram Data Summit, Thomas Lee of Sunlight Labs: Measuring Influence

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