Data.gov begins move to cloud to allow social sharing, more visualization tools

The federal government's open-data website, Data.gov, is moving into the cloud, but a few funding questions trail behind.

The Obama administration has begun transitioning its primary open-data website onto a cloud-based platform as Data.gov Next Generation.

However, the change brings some questions about when the move is officially happening and whether it's fully funded.

Data.gov offered a sneak peek into its cloud platform today with an introductory video that highlighted new features, such as the ability to share and contribute to data, visualize data with charts and maps, and share data via social networks.


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“Government agencies will now find it easier to share their public data,” according to a statement on the Data.gov website. “Agencies can upload their data to the FISMA-compliant Data.gov cloud platform, link it in real time to systems of record, or even federate data from their own sites. Data.gov brings it all together into one virtualized governmentwide catalog.”

Developers will find it easier to use the data on the website because it relies on open, nonproprietary and standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs), according to the statement on the website.

Features of the next iteration of Data.gov are also being highlighted on a website hosted by Socrata, an open-data company. Socrata was among the vendors that were awarded a $46 million blanket purchase agreement in October 2010 to deliver dataset hosting services for Data.gov. The other vendors are CGI Federal, Eyak Technology, Smartronix and Qbase.

Socrata has published several Web pages about the next-generation Data.gov on its site, including additional information about the catalog and interface, APIs, maps and charts, and social media sharing capabilities.

Despite the publicity for the new platform, it was not immediately clear if the new Data.gov was actually available. Officials at the General Services Administration and Socrata declined to respond to requests for additional information or say whether Data.gov has received sufficient funding to complete the transition to the cloud.

Under the fiscal 2011 budget appropriation approved by Congress, GSA’s E-Government Fund, which supported Data.gov in the past, was reduced from $34 million last year to $8 million.

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