Ho-hum statistics come alive with Google Public Data Explorer


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Last year Google launched a public data search feature that allowed users to find statistics within the company’s search service. Public data search includes statistics from the World Bank, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, among others. It’s a nice offering, but many users found that it was difficult to comb through so many statistics without an easy way to interpret them.

In an attempt to address that issue, Google has launched Public Data Explorer. The service displays statistics taken from the various services currently included in its public data search in line graphs, bar charts or bubble charts. The charts are animated, allowing users to watch as the data points change throughout the years.


Google pointed out that the Public Data Explorer is a Labs offering, which means it’s still in the experimental phase. The search giant is asking for feedback from users to see how it can improve the service.

I had the chance to use Public Data Explorer recently and was generally impressed. The service works without a hitch and much of the data it offers in the visual maps is fascinating. The animations that allow users to see changes over the years is a welcome addition. It’s also nice that any of the data sets can be embedded into a website.

So far, the biggest issue with Public Data Explorer is the few data sets it offers. Currently, users will find graphs on unemployment rates, mortality in the U.S., and a handful of other data sets. Google said that it hopes to add more data to its service in the coming months, which should help.

Google Public Data Explorer is worth trying out, but don’t expect it to be a daily resource anytime soon. There still isn’t enough data for that to happen.

-- Don Reisinger