Connect with Us to Bring Valuable Commerce Datasets to “Social Network for Data People”

In the cause of democratizing public data, the “flywheel effect” is starting to pick up real momentum.

This summer, when Commerce issued a public call for the private sector to help democratize our data to help address the inequalities in data access that were causing concern, no one could have known just how many innovative approaches would be brought to the table by entrepreneurs around the country.

Brett Hurt CEO and Co-founder, (left) and Counselor Justin Antonipillai, Economics & Statistics  Administration

Just last week, there were a number of announcements about efforts to democratize the Commerce Department’s data, and today, we announce the details of another open and public effort. is answering Justin’s challenge by committing to develop an application program interface that will make it easier for data users everywhere to access high-value Commerce Department data sets and data sets from other federal agencies.

As co-founder and CEO, Brett Hurt, will tell you,’s mission is to build “the most meaningful, collaborative, and abundant data resource in the world so that data people can discover and share high-quality data, connect with interesting people, and work together to solve important problems faster.”

As part of this public commitment, will leverage the platform it has built where problem solvers can find and use a vast array of high-quality open data.

As each Commerce data set is added to, it is linked with other data sets — everything from efforts to identify disparities in access to cancer clinical trials to the numbers behind the latest headlines­. This interconnectedness improves data discovery and interoperability so people and machines can unlock the value of Commerce data faster.

The free and open API we’re announcing today will include already open and available high-value data sets released by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the White House’s Opportunity Project, a cross-government initiative started by the White House this year.

The Opportunity Project:  Let’s build something amazing together.

Of course, the Commerce Department will be leading the Opportunity Project going forward, and we are excited that these Opportunity Project data sets (many of which can already be found at and the American Community Survey Data will be available on an open and public API, so that more innovators can use that data to empower people with information to help build more equitable and thriving communities.

(The Opportunity Project puts data and tools in the hands of civic leaders, community organizations, and families to help them navigate information about critical resources such as access to jobs, housing, transportation, schools, and other neighborhood amenities. See the website here.)

Working Together:  Communities, Experts, Tech, and Government

The platform and new API could allow everyone to perform several new activities on Commerce data and other public data:

  • Find data related to a specific agency, city, or topic area;
  • Bring high-value data sets into their preferred analytics tools and workflow;
  • Discuss data sets and analysis (as well as related code) alongside the data so that the community can benefit from prior work and reduce duplicative efforts;
  • Engage within a community of practice that supports education and Hackathon activities that embrace the Opportunity Project mission.

“Many data scientists say they spend 80% of their time doing data plumbing, just the nitty gritty of aligning key fields — ugly kinds of stuff. Anything we can do to give data scientists more of their brain time to be able to spend on something other than plumbing is going to be great.” — Michael Chui, partner, McKinsey Global Institute, Fast Company, July 11, 2016

As Commerce drives forward to advance President Obama’s open-data agenda and Secretary Penny Pritzker’s data pillar, open and public efforts like this undertaking by to work on the “plumbing” have great potential to be a “force multiplier” for innovations toward solving big public problems. And we hope, inspire others to put their shoulders to the data-democratization flywheel so it takes on its own momentum.

This is about more than data. This is a movement. Jump in. Join us.

– Justin and Brett


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