visualization of economic data

'America’s data agency' makes economic info more visual

To make government economic data more open and accessible, the Commerce Department is partnering with business analytics software company Tableau and operational data management and intelligence provider Enigma to give users a way to visually explore economic data.

Using Tableau Public, the company’s free data analyses tool, users can visualize any type of data with a number of chart types, as long as that data is an Excel, .CSV or Access file. By working with Tableau and Enigma, the department is making its federal data more accessible, officials said. Tableau Public can also be downloaded on a Windows or Mac computer and used to create interactive data visualizations.

Using the Tableau Public dashboard, users can explore and compare economic data, like the amount of total number of businesses in a city’s metropolitan area.

Once a visual is hosted and shared on the web, anyone can interact with it, embed into webpages or share it on social media, according to Tableau Public Director Ben Jones.

Tableau has been used by all levels of government agencies for several years. The Department of Interior used the software to improve financial analysis and track where it’s spending its money. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice was able to draw a clearer picture of children in the justice system and the effectiveness of the state’s reform efforts. At the local level, Boston’s  Mayor's Dashboard uses Tableau to visualize and publicize metrics on human services delivery, which later led to CityScore, an online scoreboard that uses data from across departments to provide a single performance measure of the city’s health.

“It's my belief that while government has the power and the responsibility to collect and share critical data for decision-making -- whether its about our economy, our weather, or our people -- the comparative advantage of making this data actionable lies with the private sector,” Laura McGorman, senior advisor at the Economics and Statistics Administration, said in the announcement.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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