PolicyMap was invited to the White House Conference Center on Wednesday for GovLab’s Open Data 500 Roundtable. The gathering was to discuss the myriad challenges of accessing and using Commerce data (such as Census and BEA data), meeting with members of NYU’s GovLab, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and around twenty other nonprofits and companies. Along with our colleagues at organizations like Google Maps, MapQuest, IBM Smarter Cities, and Social Explorer, we discussed interoperability of datasets across government agencies, public/private partnerships, and feedback loops with the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce wanted to hear from us about how we use datasets from various government and third party data providers to complement those we get from Commerce. They also wanted ideas on how the Department can work with private companies and nonprofits like PolicyMap in order to provide the best possible service for the millions of people using Commerce data via our platforms and services. And they sought to understand how Commerce can be more responsive to our needs for voicing questions and data quality concerns.
We met with government appointees within the Department of Commerce, as well as chiefs of the U.S. Census, NOAA, the BEA and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The day was filled with stimulating idea generation from brilliant minds across these agencies and companies. We came away with a very positive impression that the Commerce Department is dedicated to improving their data dissemination techniques, to working across agencies for data interoperability, and to working with the private sector to understand our requirements and our users’ needs. Secretary of Commerce’s Penny Pritzker’s remarks were particularly salient after a day of discussing how we can best work together with the Department of Commerce.
We look forward to continuing the discussion through an online forum that GovLab will be unveiling in the coming months.