On April 28th Google’s blog announced Google Public Data, a new search feature to make easier the retrieval and comparison of public data published on government web sites, by using data extracted from official sources and by visualizing them with Trendalyzer.
As their post says
The data we’re including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the web. There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers’ salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on.
In this first instance, Google shows the trend of unemployment data, with data coming from the U.S: Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, but suggests that more will come.
Where does this leave data.gov, the repository of government data in multiple formats that the US Federal CIO Vivek Kundra wants to put in place? If and when this will be up and running, tools like Google Public Data may help combine and visualize data. But what is most intriguing is that Google can already extract data from where they are, i.e. buried into individual agency web sites that it routinely searches and indexes.:
Governments cannot rely only on Google, and building some form of common repository or common access layer to data makes a lot of sense. However the appetite for more accessible public data that are easy to consume and understand is growing everywhere, and there may be a case for Google and others to provide more functionalities in this space, potentially making government initiatives such as data.gov much less relevant if not timely enough.