Commerce Data Service Kicks of Training Effort

Published: February 03, 2016

Big DataDOCDigital Government

Harnessing data continues to be a strategic goal for the Department of Commerce. This effort takes aim at enhancing the value, accessibility, and usability of departmental data for government, businesses, and the public. On the heels of standing up a data-focused organization, the next step in the effort offers training help illustrate the various ways data sets can be put to use.

In November 2015, the Commerce Department launched its Commerce Data Service (CDS). The goal of the initiative is to improve access to departmental data resources for all 12 bureaus, including the Census Bureau, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the International Trade Administration. First year funding resources include $3 million to $4 million pledged from the bureaus, but future funding will depend on performance. The department’s first Chief Data Scientist is leading the new organization. Bringing together data scientists and software engineers, the group hopes to overcome issues around data standardization and visibility. While some existing groups within government are available to help the public export data, these services can often be difficult to locate.

Late January 2016, the CDS launched its Commerce Data Usability Project (CDUP). This effort will illustrate data use cases, develop reference or tutorial code, and offer feedback and user stories. With the launch, the CDUP released four tutorials demonstrating use cases for data sets from the Census Bureau, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. Additional tutorials are expected to be released in coming months, including examples from a number of private sector companies that will leverage a range of different data sets.

The effort reflects goals to improve the department’s data capacity, spur economic growth, and explore new business models for advancing big data capabilities. If the CDS proves successful, the group may look to share some of the capabilities it develops with other departments.