Open data, Google style
Which countries in the world have the highest debt? Where do people release the most CO2 into the atmosphere? Are there any signs that inflation is rising in Europe? How is the provision of broadband facilities progressing? Open data, publicly accessible data that is usually released by government institutions, can provide answers to such questions – if the data can be found and analysed.
This is where Google's updated Public Data Explorer hopes to help. The tool for visualising political, economic and social data from numerous countries now gives access to about 50 databases, many of which provide multiple datasets – the World Bank's "World Development Indicators", for instance, provide numerous statistics on the economic, environmental and health development levels in more than 200 countries. Eurostat datasets give access to specific information on the EU countries. All of this data can easily be visualised as time series or in its geographic context.
New Public Data Explorer features include an improved data search facility, a more convenient user interface, and a new HTML5 implementation that is designed to run, without the need for plug-ins, in all modern browsers and on mobile devices. On the start page, Google provides a range of sample analyses. Clicking on the "Explore the data" button directly takes users to the data set that is being analysed, where they can do their own further research.