Kevin Schaul

journalism, graphics, data

Why the new Census.gov matters

July 26, 2012

Web technologies have exploded over the past few years, and the government appears to be trying to keep up. Finally.

The U.S. Census Bureau just announced a site redesign. The post explains all, but the highlight has to be my favorite three-letter acronym: API.

Us news developers have spent countless hours working on projects to convert government data into something usable. Election results, campaign contribution reports, salary data, regulatory reports, yada yada yada. It’s all available online, so the government is technically complying to the loose standards of online reporting. But try to build something with this data, and you’ll soon become frustrated.

But (hopefully) not for census data anymore.

If nothing else, the initiative is welcome. It’s the first time I can think of that a government entity has acknowledged that data has to be standardized for it to actually be open.

By no means is it an end-all win, but I’ll gladly accept the step in the right direction.

Now, let’s do great journalism to show the census bureau that their work was worth it. Let’s put pressure on other government entities to follow suit. Let’s code.