The One-Stop Digital Shop for Digestible Data on Your City
MIT and Deloitte’s DataUSA website wants to make information about jobs, housing, demographics, and education easy to access and use.
Rich treasure troves of public data exist about our cities, but for the ordinary person, these can be hard to dig up and decipher. That’s why citizens, nonprofits, and start-ups have been trying to convert some of these complex datasets into comprehensible and usable forms. Even the federal government has been trying to consolidate some of these data tools in one corner on the internet. But this endeavor, while significant, only brings together a few pieces of a larger puzzle. To get a detailed snapshot of a place, we still have to painstakingly put together information from various sources.
Enter DataUSA, a new, comprehensive, open-source visualization venture launched Monday by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Labs and consulting and auditing firm Deloitte. For any county, city, metro, and state in the U.S., this site pulls up visualizations of data on the economy, demographics, health, education, and housing. It’s essentially a one-stop shop for information that is easy to search, understand, embed, and build into new code.
“It’s different from other sites because, in this case, we’re making data available not in the way that it’s collected, but in the way that it’s being used,” Cesar Hidalgo, one of the site’s creators, and director of the MIT Media Lab’s Macro Connections group told CityLab.”We’re taking data that was very deep in the web to the surface of the web.”
Say you’re interested in Chicago. If you type the city’s name into the central search box, it pulls up the profile below with a few preliminary numbers:
If you want to dive deeper into the city’s demographics, you can click on that option from the categories at the bottom of the screen. The site pulls up an array of interactive visualizations on Chicagoans which you can then share, download, or embed: more…