Google has recently launched a new service called Google Public Data Explorer under Google Labs which offers a visual way to look at and analyze large public data sets on a variety of popular search topics. According to Google, the purpose of the new tool is to make “large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate”. Google, with its access to an immense assortment of information, is in the perfect position to help us with ways to display this information.
Users can play with the data endlessly, filtering it through various metrics and displaying it in different types of charts and graphs. Google claims that it has been using anonymous information from its users’ searches to best determine what sorts of public data are most requested, and then used that to create a list of the most popular data and statistics search topics. Those results will likely continue to inform Google’s process as it integrates more public data into its offerings.
The Data Explorer tool includes data from the original three sources Google announced last year — the US Census Bureau, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the World Bank — as well as five new data providers including: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), California Department of Education, Eurostat, US Center for Disease Control & US Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Currently there are four different choices for visualization styles – bar graph, line graph, map or bubble, and each has its advantage. After choosing a visual style, you can select what data points you would like to see and set variables such as time period.
?The Google Public Data Explorer makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand. You don’t have to be a data expert to navigate between different views, make your own comparisons, and share your findings pretty easily. Take a look at the example I created below. The animation shows internet users (per 100 people) since 1991 in relation to Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people) of Malaysia & Singapore.
There is also a video by Google from last year which introduces the idea in detail: