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Gov’s Got Data

 Need to know the location of copper smelters throughout the world? Need data on the geochemistry of sediments? Data.gov may be just what you’re looking for.

There’s not a lot there yet, but the new federal Web site, which the Obama administration had promised to create, is up and running. The site is designed to be a clearinghouse of data from federal agencies.

As of noon today, there were 47 raw data sets on the site, mostly from the U.S. Geological Survey, and another 27 data widgets and tools.

The site is organized well and seems like it will be easy to use – especially when more data are added. One nice feature is that the site lets you search not only by agency and topic, but by file type. That means you can get mapping files or XML files if you’re specifically looking for them.

The site offers raw data as well as links to extraction tools on agency sites and widgets for viewing data from your own Web site.

According to Data.gov, the limited data available now were picked because they have "a high degree of consensus around definitions, are in formats that are readily usable, include the availability of metadata, and provide support for machine-to-machine data transfer."

Would you like to see a particular set of data added to Data.gov? You can make suggestions. You can also rate the existing data sets.

The site is intended to increase transparency and encourage public participation in government. "The openness derived from Data.gov will strengthen our Nation's democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government," it says.

We’ll be keeping an eye on this site and will let you know when we find interesting updates.

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