DOT on track with open data efforts

Saturday marked a significant milestone in the administration’s open data initiative, as Nov. 30 was the deadline to meet some of the objectives in the open data executive order.

In a Dec. 2 blog post on the Transportation Department website, DOT CIO Chief Information Officer Richard McKinney announced the department had met the Nov. 30 deadline, by making more than 2,000 data sets public, accessible and reusable.

“The federal government collects and creates a vast amount of statistical, economic, financial, geospatial, regulatory and scientific data, but much of it remains in unusable formats or trapped in government systems where it can’t be accessed by the public,” McKinney said.

Even when the data was technically online, McKinney said it could be hard to find — and even harder to use.


The released data sets have already been put to use by entrepreneurs: the SaferCar app uses data sets from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and allows vehicle shoppers to compare NHTSA 5-star crash test ratings for different models, track recalls on cars and parents can use it to locate a child safety seat installation site.

Data sets from the Federal Railroad Administration and NHTSA’s fatality analysis reporting system help consumers learn about the safety of transportation in their neighborhoods.

“There is much more work to be done before the power of all of this data can be harnessed into useful information in the hands of researchers as well as everyday consumers,” McKinney said. “And until that work is completed, DOT will continue to lead on open data.”

McKinney said the department will have a complete enterprise data inventory by next November, and will take feedback from the public about where data efforts should be targeted.

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