Every year, data users across the US converge on Washington to discuss the latest developments and innovations in public data at the Association of Public Data Users (APDU) Conference. Last week, PolicyMap sent a contingent to the 2012 gathering, where we learned about the developing role of Open Data and new resources in federal data providers’ production of data. We heard from Robert Groves, the Director of the U.S. Census, as well as folks from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), among many others. These agency leaders discussed how their administrative data work is being influenced by not only the Open Data movement, but also by new and alternative data sources we’ve just begun to appreciate, including tools like web scrapers, scanner data, and Twitter.
Open Data, for those unfamiliar with it, includes operational and administrative data used by public agencies and released to the public. The Open Data movement comes from the push for data to be available to everyone for use without restriction in the spirit of, in this case, government transparency. At our conference, the Chief Information Officer at the White House discussed how the data.gov effort has been met with mixed success and how the latest effort, cities.data.gov, will attempt to provide a more targeted approach to the provision of their data.
The agency leaders also discussed the role of alternatively sourced data on their processes. One of our favorite sessions, New Data in an Open Data World, was a wonderful collection of speakers, including Ron Borzekowski from the CFPB, Roberto Rigobon from the Billion Prices Project at MIT, and Mike Horrigan at the BLS. Borzekowski filled us in on what the newly created CFPB is working on, and he talked about how the data they will be releasing in the future will look—including some exciting new fields in the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data (which was just released a few days ago, incidentally). Rigobon and Horrigan provided a really fun look into the innovative Billion Prices Project and discussed the unique partnership between the two of them and how their work together is informing the BLS Consumer Price Index (CPI).
PolicyMap is thrilled to be a new member of the ADPU! As the ADPU provides insight into what’s coming next for our favorite datasets, we’ll keep you posted. We’re energized about what the future holds for public data, and we’re glad to have ADPU helping to keep us abreast of what we’ll be able to offer our users in the coming months and years.