Last week, the Federal Government launched Data.gov, a searchable catalog of free datasets available from federal agencies. You can browse by category (education, health, law enforcement, etc.) or by agency (Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, etc.) . The advanced search adds a file format option.
Data can be retrieved using pre-existing tools (e.g., widgets that you can insert into your website, like these from the CDC), or it can be downloaded “raw”in a variety of machine-readable, platform-independent formats:
- XML (for the Web)
- CSV/Text (MS Excel, Open Office Calc, iWork Numbers, etc.)
- KML/KMZ (Google Earth)
- ESRI (ArcGIS software)
The datasets are free, but be sure to read the Data Policy first; it contains information on what datasets can or cannot contain, as well as information on how to cite any data you use.
Got a cool project that uses government datasets? Let us know about it in the comments.