Google Public Data Explorer goes public

A new tool from Google makes it easier for anyone to visualize data.

The explosion of data has created important new roles for mapping tools, data journalism and data science. Today, Google made it possible for the public to visualize data in the Google Public Data Explorer.

Uploading a dataset is straightforward. Once the data sets have been uploaded, users can easily link to them or embed them. For instance, embedded below is a data visualization of unemployment rates in the continental United States. Click play to watch it change over time, with the expected alarming growth over the past three years.

As Cliff Kuang writes at Fast Company’s design blog, Google infographic tools went online after the company bought the Gapminder Trendalizer, the data visualization technology invented by Dr. Hans Rosling.

Google Public Data Explorer isn’t the first big data visualization app to go online, as Mike Melanson pointed out over at ReadWriteWeb. Sites like Factual, CKAN, InfoChimps and Amazon’s Public Data Sets are also making it easier for people to work with big data


Of note to government agencies: Google is looking for partnerships with “official providers” of public data, which can request to have their datasets appear in the Public Data Explorer directory.

In a post on Google’s official blog, Omar Benjelloun, technical lead of Google’s public data team, wrote more about Public Data Explorer and the different ways that the search giant has been working with public data:

Together with our data provider partners, we’ve curated 27 datasets including more than 300 data metrics. You can now use the Public Data Explorer to visualize everything from labor productivity (OECD) to Internet speed (Ookla) to gender balance in parliaments (UNECE) to government debt levels (IMF) to population density by municipality (Statistics Catalonia), with more data being added every week.

Google also introduced a new metadata format, the Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL). DSPL is an XML-based format that Google says will support rich, interactive visualizations like those in the Public Data Explorer.

For those interested, as is Google’s way, they have created a helpful embeddable document that explains how to use Public Data Explorer:

And for those interested in what democratized data visualization means to journalism, check out Megan Garber’s thoughtful article at the Nieman Journalism Lab.

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