Moving from Open Data to Open Knowledge: Announcing the Commerce Data Usability Project

Jeffrey Chen, Tyrone Grandison, and Kristen Honey at the US Department of Commerce: “…in 2016, the DOC is committed to building on this momentum with new and expanded efforts to transform open data into knowledge into action.

DOC Open Data Graphic
Graphic Credit: Radhika Bhatt, Commerce Data Service

DOC has been in the business of open data for a long time. DOC’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alone collects and disseminates huge amounts of data that fuel the global weather economy—and this information represents just a fraction of the tens of thousands of datasets that DOC collects and manages, on topics ranging from satellite imagery to material standards to demographic surveys.

Unfortunately, far too many DOC datasets are either hard to find, difficult to use, and/or not yet publicly available on, the home of U.S. government’s open data. This challenge is not exclusive to DOC; and indeed, under Project Open Data, Federal agencies are working hard on various efforts to make tax-payer funded data more easily discoverable.

CDUP screenshot

One of these efforts is DOC’s Commerce Data Usability Project (CDUP). To unlock the power of data, just making data open isn’t enough. It’s critical to make data easier to find and use—to provide information and tools that make data accessible and actionable for all users. That’s why DOC formed a public-private partnership to create CDUP, a collection of online data tutorials that provide students, developers, and entrepreneurs with the necessary context and code for them to start quickly extracting value from various datasets. Tutorials exist on topics such as:

  • NOAA’s Severe Weather Data Inventory (SWDI), demonstrating how to use hail data to save life and property. The tutorial helps users see that hail events often occur in the summer (late night to early morning), and in midwestern and southern states.
  • Security vulnerability data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The tutorial helps users see that spikes and dips in security incidents consistently occur in the same set of weeks each year.
  • Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The tutorial helps users understand how to use satellite imagery to estimate populations.
  • American Community Survey (ACS) data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The tutorial helps users understand how nonprofits can identify communities that they want to serve based on demographic traits.

In the coming months, CDUP will continue to expand with a rich, diverse set of additional tutorials….(More)