I initially didn’t report this, hoping it was a sinister April Fool’s day joke, but it seems it’s legit and frankly disappointing. It seems that several US Government websites dedicated to open and easily accessible data are being shut down, a victim of budget cuts. The list so far:
And more. Now, several of these sites have taken their ‘open’ foundations to the next level, and begun dumping their source bases to projects like Code For America, hoping that someone independent will at least attempt to continue their efforts. Some sites have decided to take their fight right to Congress, and the Sunlight Foundation seems to be spearheading the “Save The Data” initiative, hoping to get Congress to keep these important transparency & accountability projects alive.
I’ve seen some really great stuff coming out of the Sunlight Foundation and Data.gov over the last few years, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg in what I would really like to see for Open Data in government. Let’s do what we can to keep them alive!
Trying to cash in on some Web2.0 glamour, the White House has published an ‘enhanced’ version of last night’s State of the Union address, combining it with a series of infographics reinforcing the points made and providing some interesting trivial along the way.
President Obama speaks about moving forward to create jobs, out-compete in the global economy by investing in innovation and education, and win the future for our children and our country. This enhanced version features charts, graphs and other visual aids that accompany the President’s speech. January 25, 2010.
FlowingData points us to a chart from John Palmer that visualizes the last 100 years of government and economic indicators, containing the national debt, US GDP, house and senate majority parties, voter turnouts, tax collections, and inflation.
We learn from our mistakes. Hindsight is a prompt path to clarity. This historical perspective visualizes economic trends and spending patterns, during good times and bad. Present-day assumptions regarding core party values have had major shifts over time, and the ridiculous extremes in voter alignment, lobbying, and legislative action are due for revision. As a basis for future shift, this data can educate a presumptive public, empowering citizens to make an informed decision on each and every election day.
Today is Voting Day here in the US, but I don’t know if this chart will impact your decisions at all. It may debunk the theories that any particular party is more responsible for the current state of things, but the most important thing to take away from it is that voting is important. Be it in the US or overseas, get out and vote!
Nate Silver earned some internet celebrity during the Obama Presidential election for his daily election predictions on FiveThirtyEight.com . During this election cycle, he’s publishing his efforts at the New York Times complete with commentary and his usual collection of statistics for the Senate, House, and Governor’s races.
Hit his NYTimes page for all the election numbers you can shake a stick at.
The State Of The USA website has an interactive graphic showing job growth and loss across the private sector, federal government, and local governments from 2007 to present. Some of their observations:
Local governments cut 38,000 jobs in July, but lost 128,000 since the recession began.
State governments trimmed 10,000 jobs in July and lost just 6,000 jobs since December of 2007.
The federal government eliminated 154,000 jobs in July, but gained 262,000 jobs since the start of the recession.
Don’t be too surprised tho. The huge jump in federal jobs is (I’m pretty sure) related to the Census, so they’ll all be laid off (many already are).
This has been all over the news, but The Washington Post has compiled a lengthy report of Top Secret Clearances and Projects across the US Government and published the results as a collection of interactive visualization tools on their site. Their purpose is to show how use of the Top Secret Clearance has ballooned out of control of oversight groups since the 9/11 attacks on the WTC, and the government has begun to ignore the old regulation that such work be done by government personnel and instead hire contractors.
“Top Secret America” is a project nearly two years in the making that describes the huge national security buildup in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
When it comes to national security, all too often no expense is spared and few questions are asked – with the result an enterprise so massive that nobody in government has a full understanding of it. It is, as Dana Priest and William M. Arkin have found, ubiquitous, often inefficient and mostly invisible to the people it is meant to protect and who fund it.
The visuals are a bit complicated, but effectively you can see the quantity of clearances involved, various corporate involvements, and specific functional areas (IT, Weapons, etc). No details on the actual projects (of course), but a lot of useful information nonetheless.
Lots of people seem to be in an uproar at how many ‘Top Secret’ government functions are in the hands of ocntractors, but I don’t see it as such a big deal. Several reasons, actually:
Hiring Government Personnel is a ‘lifetime’ gig. While officially it’s just urban legend that government employees can’t be fired, it’s a pretty accurate one. Hiring a government employee means planning for a 30-year gig, with full benefits and pension afterwards. It’s not cheap.
Most of these are short-term gigs, meaning you’ld then have to make up work for said government employee to do. Weapons systems come and go, IT functions balloon and merge, it’s all very fluctuating.
The US Government typically won’t pay competitive wages for such expertise for people in very high-end technical areas, particularly not for 30+ years.
All in all it’s just cheaper to hire contractors. They’re held to the same security clearance constraints as government people, and the same oversight.
A great little visualization from “The State Of The USA” compiles data from around the world of historical nuclear stockpile sizes into a nice interactive visualization on Tableau Public.
The size of the U.S. stockpile of nuclear warheads was officially disclosed in May to promote transparency and give a boost to non-proliferation efforts, according to the Department of Defense. Once a closely guarded secret, the number of nukes was released on background, or without attribution, by a DOD official. As of Sept. 30, 2009, there were 5,113 warheads in the U.S. arsenal — an 84 percent reduction from the stockpile's peak in 1967. From 1994 through 2009, the U.S. dismantled 8,748 warheads, the department said.
Some nice information here, and great use of annotations. This is quite possibly one of the most ‘beautiful’ and clean Tableau Visualizations I’ve seen.
NPR recently sat down with the visualization guru Edward Tufte to discuss his sculptures (You knew he was a grand-scale sculptor, right?) on the announcement of his new gallery in New York City’s Art district, and eventually the conversation moves towards his work with Recovery.gov.
“I’m working on things where people can see immediately the 100 biggest projects, the 100 smallest projects, the 100 biggest medical projects, the 100 smallest medical projects,” he says. “So it’s a way of — in one click — of getting down to the material. And also you can put your zip code in and see the projects.”
When asked if his work with the government and with information design has any overlap with his art, Tufte says he does see a commonality. In the end, he wants to try and leave things that are forever — and that “make people see a little differently.”
VizWorld.com We cover visualization and graphics news from around the internet, including Scientific Visualization, Visual Effects, and Graphics Hardware. Read more on our About Page or learn about our Advertising Options Get updates via twitter from @VizWorld.