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Data Sources

Canada Open Data Pilot, new surveys, new publications, entries focused on the content rather than the container

An evaluation of the Thomson Reuters Data Citation Index


About a month ago I put some initial reactions to the Thomson Reuters Data Citation Index into a public note. I received some requests to do a more formal version of the same and have finally been able to do so at It's a Google Doc that should be public and should allow comments.

Our trial period ended in early December and it may be that some of the problems I describe have since been resolved. It's also possible that some of the oddities I noted would not have been present had we subscribed. Nonetheless, even if all the problems went away and it was a perfect version of itself, I'm still not sure that the UMN libraries would have chosen to subscribe. The annual fee was very, very steep.

Geospatial Data Preservation Resource Center

The Geospatial Data Preservation Resource Center gathers freely available web-based resources about the preservation of geospatial information. A variety of selected resources are being added, including reports, presentations, standards, and information about tools for preparing geospatial assets for long-term access and use. The resources are indexed to enable searching of titles and are categorized to facilitate discovery by choosing among topics, resource types, or both.

The Geospatial Data Preservation Resource Center is a project of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP), which is working with a national network of partners on a strategy for preserving digital information for use in the future. Information about the NDIIPP, its partners, projects, and events can be found on the NDIIPP web site, which is accessible at

Resource types currently include:

  • Applications: For Download
  • Applications: Online
  • Community blogs and forums
  • Online Journal Articles
  • Presentations
  • Real-World Examples
  • Reports
  • Standards
  • Tutorials and Learning Resources
  • Websites

There are too many categories of content to list here, but it's worth noting that the home page highlights education resources, policy resources and applications. 

For any institution wishing to develop a geospatial preservation program, this site seems like an excellent place to start preparing.

Kenya Open Data

Recently Kenya launched Kenya Open Data, a portal to national and sub-national data by and/or about the nation of Kenya. The site runs on a tool called Socrata boasts a host of really nice features including:

The site also contains links to other data platforms such as Google Public Data Explorer.

Access is freely available with a request for attribution according to the Terms and Conditions.

The US site, also runs on Socrata. What's interesting to me is how few of the Socrata features are used on as opposed to Kenya Open Data. Kenya's implementation is really impressive.

I look forward to using this resource and am very glad that it's makes so much data, especially sub-national data, readily available to me here in the middle of the US!

United States Department of Housing & Urban Development Data Set Reference Guides

Thanks to Lynda Kellam at the Dataland Blog for highlighting the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Data Set Reference Guides. HUD has a dense website and posts a lot of data. These two tables help you figure out which ones are most relevant for which areas of research. Unfortunately, neither has a usefully descriptive name or clear pattern of inclusion. The second guide is much shorter and includes sets like the CBO Appropriations and Fair Housing Cases as opposed to the American Housing Survey and State of the Cities listed on the first guide.

Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Study (DNORPS)


The Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Study (DNORPS) is a brand new dataset added to the ICPSR-hosted website "Data Sharing for Demographic Research". Access appears to be available to all users, not just ICPSR member institutions.

The Displaced New Orleans study was a 2006 pilot study "designed to examine the current location, well-being, and plans of people who lived in the city of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005. The study is based on a representative sample of pre-Katrina dwellings in New Orleans. Fieldwork focused on tracking respondents wherever they currently resided, including back to New Orleans. "

Data are available at the Census Tract level and for households and individuals. 

Cite as:

Sastry, Narayan. Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Study (DNORPS) [Computer file]. ICPSR29523-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-03-24. doi:10.3886/ICPSR29523

Canada's Open Data Pilot Project

Great News Everyone! The Government of Canada has just debuted a new portal to their data at the Open Data Pilot Project. The pilot has launched with 782 general datasets (e.g. not geospatial) and over 260,000 geospatial datasets. The three agencies contributing the largest number of datasets as of launch are Department of Finance Canada (258), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (226), and Statistics Canada (120). The data gathered here is freely available to all users and comes with an apparently very broad user license.

The FAQ summarizes user rights this way: "The Licence Agreement allows the licensee to use, incorporate, grant end-user licences to modify, improve, develop and distribute the data. The licensees must, however, identify the source of the data on their derived products."

Portal users may search or browse to find datasets. Browse categories include department, subject and, interestingly, file format. Where available, the portal also links to tools created by Canadian government agencies for use with datasets included in the portal.

A search for "employment" in the general dataset section returns 163 datasets, most of them relatively recent (mid-1990s-present), but there is at least one dataset included with a significant range. The Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP): Meteorological Data covers 1943-2004.

Hopefully the the Open Data Project will be successful and continue to expand!

World Bank Launches New Data Website Rich with Features and Newly Free Data

The World Bank has just launched a new Data website that is densely packed with newly free data and features for using the data which are appropriate to all levels of users.

Users may browse by country, topic, indicator or listing in the data catalog.  The World Bank says that access is now freely available for over 2000 indicators from 1960-present. In comparison, the most recent version of World Development Indicators, a licensed version of their data sold to academic libraries, contained just over 900 indicators.

For users in need of single facts or simple visualizations, the Data site is an attractive, easy to use tool.  For users wishing to generate time series, pages on the Data site include links to the newdataBank tool. 

dataBank contains the databases World Development Indicators & Global Development Finance, Gender Statistics, Health Nutrition and Population Statistics, Africa Development Indicators, Global Economic Monitor (GEM), and Millenium Development Goals.  It uses the same software  as the WDI Online product, so there’s no additional learning curve for institutions which have previously subscribed to WDI Online.

The Data site supports direct downloads of data for most datasets and databases. The Data site also provides access to APIs for developers who wish to create customized presentations of the World Bank’s data.

Given that many users will wish to copy and paste the simple visualizations at the Data site, it’s a shame that the visualizations can’t be copied and pasted.

However, this is a minor quibble with an otherwise very promising approach to data.  The World Bank has clearly thought about how to meet the needs of different user groups and the results show it.  In launching this site, the World Bank has also made a strong statement in support of open data - even to the extent of eliminating the revenue stream from WDI Online subscriptions.  This is a rare move in the information world and worthy of praise.

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