Country Portraits – Open and Embedabble

Looking for important statistical indicators of European countries? Comparing these countries? Taking the application to your own website? Making a brochure of it?

All this is provided by a newly designed application on Statistic Switzerland’s portal.

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Embed

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And download all countries as a brochure

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Open Data

The Source Data (from Eurostat and Swiss Statistics) are available as an EXCEL file: So data are open and the app made from these data is open, too. It provides selecting and embedding and also the output of all indicators as a PDF file. It may also be embedded into third party websites or other apps can be written by other people.

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App made with a CMS

This Portrait-App is one of several Apps of the same flavour. There are also portraits of the 26 Swiss Cantons, the biggest Cities and and the (more than)  2500 Communes.

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A Content Management System helps building these Portrait-Apps once the data are in correct shape. And this in a very short time (hours).

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Evidence-based Decision Making

iPads (or any easily accessible device) with a dashboard application on it become more and more used tools (or Gadgets) for politicians.

Photograph: Andrew Parsons/ZUMA Press/Corbis

No 10 dashboard

David Cameron is (perhaps) looking at the ‘new custom-built “No 10 dashboard” web app’. With a little help from National Statistics ..

‘The app is hosted by the Government Digital Service (GDS) inside the Cabinet Office, and consists of a number of onscreen tiles, each of which can be selected to show more detail. One shows the latest growth figures and the FTSE index; one shows the prime minister’s diary; one shows the content of a number of Twitter feeds, including the official No.10 feed; another shows the insights from a daily poll by the polling group YouGov; another shows property and jobs data supplied by Adzuna, a UK startup that provides inputs about the number of jobs which are then blended with data from the Office for National Statistics.
Another tile shows regional economic data, while a final tile tracks the progress of key government initiatives such as the structural reform plan – the coalition’s scheme to cut the deficit – and compares government spending against budget targets.’
Source: The Guardian  

The dashboard idea is not a new one. Some (of much more) examples:

Statistics Finland …

… provides Findicator.

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Ireland ist preparing

irelandstat

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In Switzerland

Statistics Switzerland‘s website provides a set of indicators  measuring progress on the road to sustainable development.

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In fact,

every Website of a statistical agency is more or less a dashboard for evidence-based decision making. See also OECD, IMF, World Bank

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Personal Dashboards

There are also lots of individually configurable Dashboards based on dedicated search. So:

Squirro (Beta, on invitation)

trap!t, the sister company of Siri

etc and so on. Explore yourself!

.Is this a revival and a boost for evidence-based or data-based decision making?

To app or not to app ….

The more Apps emerge in their specific stores (or silos like Apples App Store, Google Play etc) the more the discussion about the role of Apps gets intensified. Are Apps the beginning of the end of the (idea of the) Web where information flows freely (really)?

‘The essential property of the World Wide Web is its universality. The power of a hypertext link is that “anything can link to anything.” Web technology, therefore, must not discriminate between the scribbled draft and the polished performance, between commercial and academic information, or among cultures, languages, media and so on.’
This is the statement given in one of the most cited articles in Scientific American May 2001: ‘The Semantic Web. A new form of Web content that is meaningful to computers will unleash a revolution of new possibilities’ by TIM BERNERS-LEE, JAMES HENDLER and ORA LASSILA

For institutions having a mission to disseminating content (and official statistics do so) the above question is of vital interest!

Love Thy Data

Ore Lassila from Nokia and W3C focuses on this topic in a presentation he gave at a conference in Helsinki, Finland 10-14.6.2012 (CIDOC2012 – Enriching Cultural Heritage)

From the abstract of this presentation  ‘Love Thy  Data  (or: Apps Considered Harmful)’

‘When it comes to information systems for end users,  current fascination is with  “apps”. … we argue that entire  idea of an “app” is broken, and  not something we should aspire to. Apps tend to “lock” data away from other systems to  use, and by doing so contribute to the fragmentation of the overall information space. Instead, we should understand that apps come and go,  but data has longevity and should be the focus of our attention. Most importantly, we should keep in mind that sharing data can lead  to serendipitous reuse.’

Lassila doesn’t stop here and does more than propagating the Classic Web as standard against Apps. He goes a step further and makes the Semantic Web the standard for open data:

‘The Semantic Web is seen as a set of technologies that can address the above problems and  lead us towards a future where  we don’t isolate individual sets of data from others  (and from other uses). Considering the richness of human culture, and particularly the cultural differences between different communities and domains of discourse, Semantic  Web is probably our best bet in achieving broad reuse of data.’

Key messages

Here are the most important slides of his presentation:

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By the way: Here’s the Article from Scientific American

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-semantic-web

The Semantic Web. A new form of Web content that is meaningful to computers will unleash a revolution of new possibilities’ by TIM BERNERS-LEE, JAMES HENDLER and ORA LASSILA

or Google it 😉

API and Apps: An example fom official statistics

An example of an API access to statistical data

The U.S. Census Bureau  now offers some of its public data in machine-readable format. This is done via an Application Programming Interface (“API”).
Based on this API an App has been developed helping to query data from the Cenus 2010:

No data without legal clarification. The Census Bureau does it like follows:

‘Use
You may use the Census Bureau API to develop a service or service to search, display, analyze, retrieve, view and otherwise “get” information from Census Bureau data.
Attribution
All services, which utilize or access the API, should display the following notice prominently within the application: “This product uses the Census Bureau Data API but is not endorsed or certified by the Census Bureau.” You may use the Census Bureau name in order to identify the source of API content subject to these rules. You may not use the Census Bureau name, or the like to imply endorsement of any product, service, or entity, not-for-profit, commercial or otherwise.’

Open Government Data Benchmark: FR, UK, USA

Finally there’s a very interesting comparison of OGD in three leading countries.

qunb did it . Have a look at this presentation.

1) There are lots of duplicates on OGD platforms

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2) There are very few structured data yet

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3) Apps are the real challenge

There are different strategies fostering the developmemt of Apps made with open data. The U.K. method seems to be one of the most productive

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The presentation in French

10 billion

Hans Rosling is an early fighter for open data and one of the best, no: the best in presenting insights from these data.

His last example comes from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in Doha, Qatar (April 16-20, 2012) and demonstrates that ‘religion has very little to do with the number of babies per woman’.

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Some more examples of what has been done with open data are given by  publicdata.eu

With an overview of Apps:

Some of these won prizes in the http://opendatachallenge.org/

And now a new competition sponsored by The Guardian and Google is under way,

‘The Guardian Datastore and Google have teamed up to see who can help visualise the data which will show which governments are adopting the economic policies that will facilitate job growth and innovation to lead the world out of the economic slump.’

They are giving hints to datasets, called ‘the world’s key economic datasets from the UN, World Trade Organisation, IMF and some of the world’s major economic experts…’

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Bye-bye Browser (?)

For more and more online users the device of choice is a mobile device and for more and more of these users  ‘Apps are the Web and the Web is Apps”.

Applications (Apps)  for mobile devices can be downloaded and installed in seconds. These apps focus on certain needs and perhaps half a dozen of Apps meet the daily online demands for you and me.

With Apple’s planned App store for laptop and desktop computers  these devices join this philosophy, too.  So what about the future of Websurfing using classic browsers? And what about the future of complex Websites offering many levels of browser navigation and tons of pages delivering information?

The discussion (the fight) is under way and the users will decide.

For information suppliers like statistical agencies this issue is of huge importance.

How to ensure the mission for public information and democracy given such developments in the online world?

– with traditional websites?
– with (small) Apps (or Widgets) with specific, user-focused information portions?
– or both (for how long)?
– with integration into existing Apps or platforms where people are, like facebook or Google?

There are already today some interesting developments in statistics’ dissemination giving partial answers.

So have a look at:

CBS iPhone App (search CBS Statline in the iPhone App store)

And also some of the widgets like i.e. https://blogstats.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/imaodbc-2010-and-the-winner-is/