Solution Architecture

Definitions for every column

I just downloaded some energy data from data.gov on nuclear reactors and one of the columns is:

"NRC Unit"

I have no idea what that means? Every column or field of data should have a definition and that should be available on data.gov or in a standard format with the dataset. In this case, the data dictionary field that the catalog record links to does not have the definition of this field.

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73 votes

Solution Architecture

Custom Notifications/RSS Feeds for New Datasets

An API to provide customizable RSS feeds should be considered, to allow users to subscribe to specific thematic areas, geographic areas and so on. This way, if for example someone was interested in data on aquatic resources in the Chesapeake Bay, they could subscribe and apply filters by custom search terms, by geography of interest, thematic keywords and so on. This could either provide notices via e-mail, or by ...more »

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47 votes

Key Partnerships

Create a Data.gov Evangelist Position

Most of the big APIs like Twitter, Facebook, and now LinkedIn have a dedicated core team that spends a lot of time evangelizing the API and working with developers to get what they need. Data.gov needs a Data.gov evangelist who can be the community manager out on the road listening and talking and generally spreading the word on data.gov and its value. I think this is a separate role from leadership like Vivek Kundra ...more »

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46 votes

Agency Next Steps

Reporting problems with data

The system should have a way to add "notes" about the data. This could include specific things that should be watched for (for example, the assumptions that the data was collected under, or the methology used to collect it)...it's not much use to use the dataset "tax data for 1999" in a mission critical application if the methology was to "ask 10 people what the tax rate was in 1999" Likewise, there should be ways ...more »

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46 votes

General

Create standards that are needed to spur open data-

As the Dublin Core proved - a little bit of standardization can go a long way. In the open gov data arena, a short list of the areas it would make sense to have global standards on would help all governments and citizens get clear on what needs to be developed for voluntary adoption and where we develop the standards. This idea is to openly develop that short list so we can accelerate this transformation.

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39 votes

Developer's Corner

Application Programming Interfaces

We, at DataGov are very interested in enabling datasets with API interfaces that will allow applications to dynamically use the data without downloading the entire dataset. What are some of the most popular ways that developers recommend and can you provide examples of use cases and/or existing apps that support this need?

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38 votes

Strategic Intent

Funding - Data.gov cannot be another unfunded federal mandate

Federal agencies are already trying their best to respond to a stream of unfunded mandates. Requiring federal agencies to a) expose their raw data as a service and b) collect, analyze, and respond to public comments requires resources. The requirement to make data accessible to (through) Data.gov should be formally established as a component of one of the Federal strategic planning and performance management frameworks ...more »

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35 votes

Developer's Corner

Simplify and Radically Improve Search Capability (e.g., USA.gov)

The current Data.gov search tool is capable but cumbersome and does not yield desired results. We should combine and leverage capabilities in other government websites that have good search engines (and/or are planning on more improvements such as usa.gov). We should leverage and make this search available simply on the top of the site for all users. we should also have the ability to invoke more complex search capabilities ...more »

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32 votes

Key Partnerships

Public Data.gov Roadmap

Many high-profile projects that rely on a community of supporters, like mozilla.org and open office, post a public roadmap that details major forthcoming plans and milestones. OMB/GSA should do the same for data.gov so that the public can see when planned innovations will occur and that they are actually influencing the evolution.

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29 votes

Agency Next Steps

Showcase Uses of Data

Create a page that highlights applications that are making use of data from data.gov. The examples should be real world (not demo's) sites that currently are making use of the data. They should range from simple to more complex. The public should be able to submit their sites to list. Possibly to encourage the use of the data prizes should be given out for the "best" sites, chosen by the goverment, or by public voting. ...more »

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29 votes

General

Notify the public if data is removed

Comparing the list of agency participation on data.gov, it appears that the number of raw data sets and tools posted by certain agencies has gone down at certain times. If an agency removes access to raw data or a tool on data.gov, it should be noted on the site, and a reason for the removal should be given.

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29 votes

Strategic Intent

Dataset Versioning

Perhaps it's there and I don't see it, but it would seem that some kind of automated versioning system needs to be in place. My concern, from a transparency standpoint, would be if there is the capability to overwrite an existing dataset. Even if it is well intentioned, if the original dataset is not preserved, questions could arise as to what has been changed/added/removed. This could also help with datasets that ...more »

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28 votes

Strategic Intent

Create Scenerios Showcasing Data.gov Contributions for Key Issue

Many professional and social circles continue to focus on issues such as climate change, governmental fiscal imbalances, the demographic shift to older populations, depleting resources, health care, and increasing technological complexity. We are about to embark on a new decade and these unresolved issues will follow us. How will Data.gov contribute toward addressing the tough questions we face in the next decade? ...more »

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27 votes

General

Relate Datasets

In browsing the current Data.gov holdings, one sees data which has in some instances been chunked (for example large datasets which would contain too many records as CSV) - perhaps these may be broken out by state, et cetera. Similarly, there are cases where there are datasets which are part of a time series (e.g. 2005->2006->2007 annual data releases) - it would be useful toward usability to have ways to relate these ...more »

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27 votes

Developer's Corner

Developer Wiki

Though there is another idea regarding a wikipedia entry... I think it is important to have a separate wiki set up for developers as there are many developer topics where collaboration is key. Of course, there are tons of precedent for this whereby many major development efforts/sites have developer wikis.

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26 votes

Developer's Corner

Code Repository

In addition to posting datasets and web services, Agencies should also be posting code and documentation. As with a data policy of "By default, all data should be made available, unless there are compelling reasons why not, e.g. sensitivity" so to should be the case with GOTS code. A large number of parallel development efforts by contractors and agency staff alike are underway across many agencies, often replicating ...more »

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26 votes

General

Clarify Data.gov Feedback Loop

I applaud the visionaries behind Data.gov for understanding the importance of feedback. It is great that there are feedback input mechanisms for datasets and also this feedback input site (ideascale) for feedback on the solution governance, architecture, and technologies. But in an ideal world feedback is an ongoing conversation, with comments or suggestions going into the system, responses and requests for use cases ...more »

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24 votes

Solution Architecture

Improve Browsing of Data.gov

While there are quite a few discussions on this site about search; I would like to see improved browsing via a robust taxonomy/folksonomy of topic areas. In fact, I would recommend both a top-down/bottom-up approach where you begin with a top-down taxonomy but allow it to be extended via topic area suggestions and popular keywords. As a citizen, I don't always know what I want but want to browse and see what is available. ...more »

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24 votes

Solution Architecture

Super Crunching

Require agencies to submit datasets in standard format with common metadata fields, including short and long descriptions to improve user understanding of data-set. Create a user interface that enables users to easily graph multiple time-series data sets (simple trend graphs). This will let them visually compare different data sets on relative scales. By aggregating all government data into a standard format and enabling ...more »

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23 votes

Strategic Intent

Data Quality - Need process for assuring 'good data' on Data.gov

On Page 9 of the CONOP, the example of Forbes' use of Federal data to develop the list of "America's Safest Cities" brings to light a significant risk associated with providing 'raw data' for public consumption. As you are aware, much of the crime data used for that survey is drawn from the Uniformed Crime Reporting effort of the FBI. As self-reported on the "Crime in the United States" website, "Figures used in this ...more »

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23 votes

Solution Architecture

Facilitate Access to Agency Web Services via Aggregation

In addition to providing Agency metadata and facilitating informed discovery of datasets, there may be a good role for Data.Gov to serve in also serving as a clearinghouse for discovering and facilitating access to datacentric agency web services, e.g. Open Geospatial Consortium Web Map Service (WMS) and Web Feature Service (WFS). In many instances, these types of services may lie scattered across and within agencies, ...more »

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23 votes

Solution Architecture

Systematically Track How People Are Using Data from Data.gov

There's no question that open data can provide citizens with more information and transparency about how government is operating and the results it's getting. But that's only half of the equation: We believe that open data produces not just more informed citizens, but also, ultimately, better government. To make that equation come true, though, we have to be vigilant about tracking how people are using data, and incorporating ...more »

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22 votes

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