Want to know what the weather is? Today we have so many ways to find out: check one of many sites on the Internet – or, more likely, you’ll find the temperature and links to forecasts conveniently on your e-mail provider’s home page. Then there are, of course, TV, radio and newspaper forecasts.
Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego, Matt Lauer – or more important, how do you get to where you want to be? Use your smartphone or the GPS in your car.
And how prevalent is the flu? We may have gotten sick from all the stories that have inundated us in the past few weeks.
And finally, what’s the point of all these questions?
The point is that all this information ultimately comes from your government for free. (It already belongs to you, anyway.) And it’s available through Data.gov. In a way, it’s hiding in plain sight.
Even more important, this is such a normal part of life that we don’t even think of this as “government data” but take it for granted as basic to getting through the day. This “data” is collected by the public service as well as by technology (such as satellites in the case of weather and GPS). Most of us use it after other people and technology make it easier to understand, people whose jobs are often even dependent on the availability of this data for free so they can to profitably provide the services and information we can use.
Here are just a couple of examples:
Sally Ruth Bourrie of Phase One Consulting Group supports Outreach and Communications at Data.gov.