Data is playing an increasingly-prominent role in business as more records are made more easily available through open data portals and public APIs. Writing for DigitalGov back in April, Bill Brantley discussed the importance of government data to the US economy.
Brantley references a TechRepublic interview with Ian J. Kalin, where the CDO for the Department of Commerce discussed his reliance on government data while working in the energy sector.
“If we didn’t have the Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics producer price indices for certain manufactured goods, we would never have been able to build some of our most successful products,” claimed Kalin.
Combining data in innovative ways can provide valuable informational products and services, and this is a solid argument for encouraging the DOC to release more data via APIs. For example, comparing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration information with Census information allows the creation of a model for the aquatic commerce system. This could then be complimented with Bureau of Labor Statistics and information from NASA’s Earth observations to complete the picture.
This information could be used to determine commercial opportunities or environmental impacts, or to track any series of metrics to determine the health of the industry. The establishment of Census and the Patent and Trademark Office in the Constitution shows the importance of information in the past. Now, the spirit of open access continues as information is made available through government APIs.