Open government data starts making sense

FCC online mapping site helps put spreadsheets into perspective instantly

The problem with government transparency is that it's too often opaque. That is, a large amount of data presents a daunting challenge to anyone trying to find useful information in it.

The Federal Communications Commission is looking to address that, launching an online mapping site that lets people quickly map data and easily share it through social networks.

IssueMap.org lets users copy, paste and map data, going from a spreadsheet to a shareable map in less than 60 seconds, FCC officials said.

“Maps are a data visualization tool that can fix a rotten spreadsheet by making the data real and rich with context,” Michael Byrne, the FCC's first geographic information officer, wrote in an FCC blog Feb. 7.

“By showing how data -- and the decisions that produce data -- affect people where they live, a map can make the difference between a blank stare and a knowing nod,” Byrne wrote.


Related coverage

GIS' future is with crowds, clouds ... and 4-D


The Open Government Directive of 2009 brought about the release of massive amounts of tabular government data. However, without a simple way to visualize and add context to this data, it has remained largely untapped by the public.

IssueMap’s intuitive mapping interface lets people and decision-makers engage with this data for better understanding of the issues affecting their communities, Byrne said.

IssueMap has been a long time in coming. “As a board member with the National States Geographic Information Council, some colleagues and I identified the need for a product that would produce maps from complicated data steps in just three steps: copy, paste, map,” Byrne wrote.

IssueMap is that product, Byrne added.

IssueMap is built on FortiusOne’s GeoIQ, a user-friendly data management, visualization and analysis platform. It lets users visualize data from the FCC and other government databases as well as citizen–collected data. They can upload spreadsheet data and create a map for sharing with their community members, policy-makers and legislators.

FortiusOne built GeoIQ so nontechnical users could easily make sense of data, said Sean Gorman, president and founder of FortiusOne. IssueMap capitalizes on those core capabilities, he said.

A video that shows IssueMap in action is embedded within Byrne’s blog. Byrne encouraged users to check out the video and then visit IssueMap.org.

“You can use the social media functionality in IssueMap to share your map with your community, or even export in a [Keyhole Markup Language] file to mash up your map [with] other online services,” he wrote. Byrne also encouraged users to leave links to their maps in the comments section of the blog.

The FCC also wants to hear from users about other capabilities they want to see in the next iteration of IssueMap.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Sun, Mar 6, 2011 RLoftin

IssueMap sounds like some really interesting technology. However, I find it hard to believe that any single tool will meet the visualization needs of any substantial amount of people that need access to the data. I would like to see the government sponsor more competitions to develop apps that use government data.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group