Google Launches Data Visualization Service

By dgillman | May 5, 2009

Several weeks ago, Google contacted me at BLS to let us know they were using some of our data in a launch of a new service in data visualization.  Their plan is to make as much data available as possible with as rich a tool set as they can provide.  To see an example, enter the phrase “US Unemployment Rate” in the Google search box.  The top link sends you to a page that allows you to superimpose historical graphs of unemployment rates down to any county in the US.  There is a link at the bottom of the page for “Information for Publishers” for people interested in letting Google know about their own data.

Google’s inquiry took us by surprise, as we have no working relationship with them.  Our main concern was whether their launch would impose an undue burden on our web servers, but we decided it would not.  Every time we release a new estimate for the Unemployment Rate or the Consumer Price Index we experience a sharp spike in web activity on our site.  So we were prepared.  The actual launch did not contain any surprises.

I spoke with some people at Google about their plans.  The seem to have a good appreciation of statistical data and metadata.  They even know about the SDMX standard for describing time series data.  It tums out, the program manager for this work at Google is Ola Rosling, the son of Hans Rosling, who is the person behind the Gap Minder project for data visualization.

The world seems to be getting smaller every day.

  • Dan Gillman

US Bureau of Labor Statistics