Sunlight is very proud to share the news that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will award us $4 million over the next three years to increase our ability to make more government data more accessible, especially on the state and local level. With this new support, we will focus more on making more government data accessible to more and more people -- not just journalists and experts. This new funding from the Knight Foundation will undoubtedly go a long way toward giving us more resources to make online government transparency a reality, enabling us to continue to build tools to bring that data to the public and share with the growing open government community lessons learned from our work.
Exactly one week ago we launched Sitegeist, an app to learn more about your surroundings through visualizations of publicly available data. We are immensely proud of Sitegeist and thrilled by the response! As of yesterday afternoon, we have more than 20,000 downloads from both the iPhone and Android versions. Most exciting of all is that there have been more than 300,000 paneviews, which are individuals loading different categories of data. It's the metric we're watching to see how much people interact with and explore the data. It's a big beautiful number and we hope you keep coming back for more!
Media coverage of the launch of Sitegeist was stellar with everything from the Washington Post's Wonkblog to Boing Boing. Gizmodo's review proclaimed that Sitegeist will "scrub a mountain of publicly available data, chew it up for you, and spit easy-to-read infographics right into your mouth like a loving mama bird." Indeed. They even named it one of their Apps of the Week! Android Police said "Not only does the app provide some really useful information, but it looks damn good doing it" and FlowingData summed it up nicely as "Data just a flick and a scroll away."
We're tickled pink with these write-ups but it's also great to hear directly from the users. Hundreds of folks have shared their thoughts on Sitegeist and many come armed with helpful suggestions for new data they'd like to see or bug reports we're rushing to squash. We've updated the inaccurate hazard icon and greased the stubborn "Political Contributions" see-saw! We are hoping to add more features soon and will let you know as we incorporate more improvements (and data!).
I will assume those of you who have not downloaded Sitegeist yet are clamoring to download it now, but for all of you that already have: thank you. Be sure to open the app up when you're home for the holidays and have a happy new year!
Today the Sunlight Foundation unveils our latest app to reinforce the power of the data around you. It's called Sitegeist, a simple iPhone and Android app that presents a huge amount of information from disparate sources in straight-forward infographics. Just scroll and swipe your way through rich statistics about your location from demographics to popular local venues.
Sitegeist is a mobile application that helps you to learn more about your surroundings in seconds. Drawing on publicly available information, the app presents solid data in a simple at-a-glance format to help you tap into the pulse of your location. From statistical data on the people and housing to the latest popular spots or weather, Sitegeist presents localized information visually so you can get back to enjoying the neighborhood.
The app is intuitively designed such that location-specific information that would be normally difficult to track down is now all together in one place on your smartphone. As you user, just launch the app, plug in your location or a spot you're curious about and then swipe between the categories of data. Age distributions, political contributions, median home values, record temperatures and much more will appear instantly. We will continue to add new data and bolster the app as we get public feedback so please let us know with your tweets, email and comments.
Behind the scenes we dug up publicly available data and brought thousands of records together just to display one fact about your location. For example, when you drop a pin on the map and see the age distributions, we are pulling age data from the 2010 U.S. census based on the specific census tract the pin you dropped on the map is in. You don't need to know where to find the census data or even know what census tract you're in, just drop the pin and learn. Sitegeist presents a fresh perspective on a location and lets you consume complex information immediately taking on Herbert Simon's famous observation, "a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." If you happen to have a wealth of attention, tap on much of data to get more information from the source. Find a contaminated site nearby? Tap to be taken to the EPA's site with a longer description of the issue.
Sitegeist was created by the Sunlight Foundation with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and is the third in a series of National Data Apps. The first two National Data Apps are Sunlight Health, that brings healthcare ratings data and prescription drug safety information to your pocket, and Upwardly Mobile, a web app that helps users find a better place to live by comparing salary, living and employment data and ranking it based on their preferences. Sitegeist was created by the Sunlight Foundation, in consultation with design firm IDEO.
We're excited to announce Upwardly Mobile, Sunlight's new webapp funded by the Knight Foundation that allows you to research where in the country you could enjoy financial security and an improved quality of life. Upwardly Mobile is an easy-to-use relocation research tool backed by powerful economic data, allowing granular comparisons without digging through arcane government reports for each indicator. We sifted through all this data so you don't have to, and this information is now presented seamlessly on any mobile or tablet platform.
Just enter your zipcode, career information and cost-of-living importance and then Upwardly Mobile gets to work generating a list of ideal places for you to move. Alternatively, you can browse individual cities to compare them to national averages. Through charts and graphs, you can explore how metropolitan areas of similar size compare to where you live now, including:
- Occupation: Both the average salary for the selected occupation over time and income data for the entire metropolitan area.
- Housing costs: Rents, as well as maintenance services and goods such as furniture and appliances.
- Cost of living: Apparel, education, food and childcare.
- Quality of life costs: Recreation, transportation and health care.
Part of putting this responsively designed app together included deciding which economic factors make the greatest difference in people’s lives. For instance, we decided that salary and housing costs are more important than other economic indicators such as the cost of recreation services. These weights impact the base ranking, but the importance attached to each economic category can be changed by your selections in the survey. For more information on this methodology and the technical background, check out my colleague Jeremy's blog post here.
The Upwardly Mobile app utilizes data comes from many sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and the U.S. Census.
Upwardly Mobile is the second in a series of National Data Apps, developed with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The first was Sunlight Health, which helps people make more informed decisions about medical care. Sunlight also created mobile apps for monitoring lawmakers: Congress for Android and Windows phones and Real Time Congress for iPhone. The recently launched OpenStates app for iPhone and iPad tracks the inner-workings of all 50 state legislatures.
Note: 4/3/12, 5:25 p.m. This post has been updated to clarify the weighting of salary and housing costs against other economic indicators.
I’m thrilled to announce that the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation just announced a new $1.2 million two-year grant to us to support Sunlight in our nascent “National Data Apps” initiative that allows us to give you access to more government data that affects you in your daily life. The funding also allows us to further expand our award-winning Sunlight Live real-time accountability platform that combines streaming video, government transparency data, journalistic background and social media coverage of major events in Washington. (Be sure to tune in on Election night, when we’ll cover the results of this year’s mid-term elections.)
Our Sunlight Labs will design -- along with our Reporting Group -- the National Data Apps and issue reports on the government’s track record for making this kind of data available to the public. Additionally, the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group will train journalists, bloggers and other members of the media on how to use the National Data Apps when they are launched in early-2011. (Use the comments below to let us know if you’re interested in this kind of training, or send us an email.)
Knight’s previous funding of Sunlight has supported our creation of Poligraft, Influence Explorer and our free embeddable Politiwidgets about members of Congress that you’ve seen used in our blog posts and on some of your hometown newspapers’ websites.