Big data gets a lot of deserved hype in the media, but, in the field of economic development, we haven’t yet really seen the benefits of big data. Federal agencies, like the Economic Development Administration and others, have been improving their offerings. But, we really haven’t yet seen a “killer app.” I’m not sure that it is the killer app, but I am really intrigued with the new Data USA site, and I highly recommend a visit. Developed by Deloitte, DataWheel and the researchers at the MIT Media Lab, Data USA bills itself as “the most comprehensive visualization of U.S. public data.” Based on my limited knowledge, they can rightly make this claim. If you want to understand your local economy, there are few better places to get started.
If you’re interested in digging deeper, I’d also encourage you to take a closer look at the work of MIT Media Lab’s Cesar Hidalgo, one of Data USA’s designers. This is the latest in a series of fascinating projects that he has done. Others include the Observatory of Economic Complexity, which maps international trade patterns, StreetScore, a tool to map the perceived safety of streets in major U.S. metro areas, and Data Viva, which maps employment and education patterns in Brazil.