Google’s public data program
A recent, rather low-key, announcement from Google reported the launch of their new public data program. As part of the Google Maps Engine project, which allows users to create custom maps online, the public data program aims to make public data more discoverable by allowing users to (optionally) publish their data through Google. The published data will be added to the content that may be searched via other Google tools such as Google Maps, Google Maps Gallery and Google Earth.
The public data publishing service is free, users retain ownership of their data, which may be removed at any time, and user restrictions or end user licensing conditions may be attached to the content. The goal is to help ‘authoritative publishers to overlay their content on top of Google’s base map and make it accessible and useful’. By authoritative publishers Google means public data providers and governments who capture and maintain data that is of public interest and who wish to make that data available as a public good. Some examples of the type of mapping content Google are interested in publishing include:
- Crisis and emergency management data
- Statistics ( elections, demographics, health)
- Government (administrative boundaries, local services, transport)
Given the prevalence of Google’s existing mapping interfaces, the public data program seems set to take advantage of Google’s already strong presence in the online mapping market. It will be interesting to see how much more public data are published.