Open Data Spells Success

The thing about is that it’s really not about the data, it’s about how the data makes a difference. Examples abound. Public data is the basis for our weather services – we get our weather reports ultimately thanks to the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration whose data is here for you, for free, on GPS and wayfinding is the same thing, thanks to free satellite data.


Private industry uses all the time. Agriculture is one of many industries whose products and predictions depend on public data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service’s plant Genomics and Genetics datasets are used by more than 500,000 visitors*, including firms who are household names. Same thing with the U.S. Department of Energy. Ecodesk is a live, web-based platform that enables organizations to search, publish, analyze and communicate sustainability data in one place. OPower works with more than 75 energy utilities to provide millions of people across the country with a personal analysis of their energy usage and individualized recommendations for how to use less.Find more examples of how companies are using free Federal energy data here.


Nonprofit organizations use Federal open data in their work, too. The National Priorities Project (NPP) is a non-partisan research organization dedicated to making complex Federal budget information transparent and accessible. Naturally, its tools are based on Federal open data. Like the Federal Priorities Database search tool localizes Federal spending along with corresponding indicators. Trade-Offs: Allocate Your Tax Dollars estimates the amount of individual income tax that cities, congressional districts, counties, and states contribute towards Federal programs. Tax Receipt shows where your tax dollars were spent and President’s Budget analyzes what the President has proposed for the future.


Federal agencies save taxpayer dollars by using itself as a tool. Take the U.S. Agency for International Development. It had a dataset of approximately 117,000 records that needed cleaning up before it could be mapped. Staff invited crowdsourcing using as an interactive platform to get the job done. In 16 hours – 44 hours sooner than expected – it was completed, and at no cost to the agency/taxpayer. Learn more here.


For more open data success stories, check out and visit the Smart Disclosure community blog to find success stories using U.S. Department of Treasury data.


*A visitor is defined as a repeat Web site visitor who accesses multiple pages of the database.


Sally Ruth Bourrie of Phase One Consulting Group supports Outreach and Communications at



One Response to “Open Data Spells Success”

  1. Tom Cony

    Hi, I see this post and want to say that yes is really a good source for my study and work. I always come and find valuable data I need, which includes “Food Price Outlook” that was just published a week before. Anyway, thank you for all the great help.

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