White House refreshes Data.gov

Data.gov 2.0

On Friday the White House relaunched Data.gov, its online clearinghouse for government data.

The site launched one year ago with the aim of providing the public and developers with a one-stop shop for all federal data feeds and databases. After starting with only 47 data sets, the site now boasts more than 270,000 on a wide range of topics. Traffic has increased from 2 million hits May 21, 2009, to an expected 98 million today, according to federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra.

While there have been some complaints about the quality and formatting of data on the site, the high level of public interest indicates the administration's efforts are striking a chord. According to the Pew Center 40 percent of adults on the Internet use the Web to find government information.

Kundra told Nextgov the site's appeal to software developers was unexpected; the site has inspired hundreds of applications that make use of various environmental, economic and other data sets.

"The birth of the community of innovators — that's far exceeded my expectations," Kundra said. But it hasn't all been easy. "We wanted to release [U.S. Patent and Trademark Office] data, but its systems were decades old."

Kundra also indicated that his plans for the site are not yet met; he hopes to expand the number of applications featured, and recently upgraded the search capabilities by implementing a new tool powered by Microsoft's Bing.

According to Nick Hoover the site also recently added Jeanne Holm, chief knowledge architect for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to help with outreach to developers and the public. Holm's job will be to gauge what the public wants from Data.gov and said the outreach would involve social networking.