Open Data Takes Center Stage at User Conference

This week over 16,000 business leaders and data visionaries from around the world will convene for the 2014 Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Users Conference in San Diego. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathy Sullivan, and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Dr. Mark Doms will join representatives from Census and NOAA to highlight the work of the Commerce Department over the last year and to share their vision for the Commerce Department’s data transformation in the coming year. Open federal data spurs civic innovation and business growth and this is why the Commerce Department has made data a top priority in its current five year strategic plan.

Federal statistics have always been used to inform public policy and spending, but are increasingly becoming used by the private sector and individuals to make more informed decisions for their businesses and local communities, particularly in the area of mapping and in solving spatial problems. Firms like ESRI are in the business of making data accessible and digestible through visualization. Firms like ESRI also offer software tools that rely on multiple Commerce data sets and enable customers to map and solve spatial problems.

Users are also starting to take Census data into the third dimension; for example, in a November 2013 blog post, Synthicity used Census population data with its GeoCanvas, a platform that enables users to see their city via 3D data visualization. Following the first-ever National Day of Civic Hacking (June 1-2, 2013), Jerome Maurey-Delaunay brought Census data to life when he created a 3D model portraying income across Miami-Dade County using Census 2010 income statistics. *

A 3D model portraying income across Miami-Dade County using Census 2010 income statistics.

All of the attendees are interested in the presentation and visualization of data. As the Census Bureau was one the first mapping services in our country, it is fitting that Census representatives will share best practices and creative ideas with our nation’s leading companies in this field. In addition to hosting nine panel presentations and meeting with participants in the exhibit hall, the Census Bureau will have twenty-three interactive installations filled with maps and posters highlighting items such as the Director’s Story Map, the 25th Anniversary of TIGER, TIGERweb, and a variety of thematic and reference maps will be featured in Esri’s Map Gallery.

Check out the schedule for Census panels, including the Under Secretary’s interactive panel, “Calling all Business, Government and Community Decision Makers—Help Census Bureau Innovate its Data Products and Services,” where there will be 3D models of ACS data on the floor for viewing.

Lauren Lipovic, Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

*The writer and the U.S. Department of Commerce do not endorse firms or models described within this text.This post was originally published on the ESA blog by Lauren Lipovic, Special Advisor to the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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