Transforming Federal Datasets into Actionable Insights with the U.S. Department of Commerce

Over the past 12 weeks, we have been working alongside five selected teams to join "The Opportunity Project" (TOP), initially launched by The White House and now sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce. This product development sprint challenges tech teams to leverage federal open data to develop innovative digital solutions that address pressing national challenges.

In a world where data drives decisions, thousands of policymakers grapple daily with complex datasets to tackle some of society’s most pressing challenges, from determining the perfect site for a new school, to reshaping public transport routes, to analyzing the impact of COVID-19 to urban centers, to bridging industry-specific skill gaps. However, accessing and interpreting federal data can be daunting. This challenge is especially pronounced in under-resourced communities, where staff may lack the capacity and skills to effectively analyze data.

We spent the sprint working alongside state departments of commerce, non-profit organizations, economic development associations, and key data providers like the U.S. Census Bureau to better understand the pain points of using federal datasets today. Through these discussions, a central theme quickly emerged: the core challenge isn’t finding datasets, it’s knowing where to start once you have them. Translating federal data into insightful analysis for practical decision-making requires subject matter expertise and ultimately access to practitioners.

This is where our platform came in: a collaboration space for policymakers, data providers, and digital tool creators to not only access a library of projects showcasing how others have put data into action, but also technical assistance for quick questions (e.g., “what does this term mean in practice?”). This goal is to cut down on the time it takes to translate data into insights, and create a one-stop-shop for how to use these datasets in practice.

We will be presenting on a panel with our fellow TOP Sprint participants at the Census Open Innovation Summit 2024 from January 17-19 and hope you can join to hear about our progress. Visit SplashThat to register and learn more:

In the meantime, we are always looking for ideas and feedback. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, please don’t hesitate to reach out!