Google's new search tool allows users to search for public data, such as the unemployment rate for various states and counties, and see it presented as an interactive graph. The initial launch includes population and unemployment data, although Google hopes to expand the service to cover other areas. Google has been concentrating on adding new features to both search and other solutions as it competes for market share.
A new search
tool by Google
allows users to see certain types of public data, such as the unemployment rate
and population, presented as an interactive graph.
if a user pairs a search term such as "unemployment rate" or "population" with
a geographical location within the United States (such as "Arizona"), the top
search result will be an interactive graph that allows the user to see that
unemployment or population rate over time.
A menu bar on
the leftmost part of the screen will then allow the user to overlay other
county or state data atop that initial graph. For anyone with the desperate
urge to see how the unemployment rate in North Dakota has compared to that of Arizona
over the past 18 years, your ship has well and truly arrived.
"The data we're
including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the
interesting public data available on the [Web]," Ola Rosling, product manager for
Google wrote in a corporate blog posting. "All the data we've used in this
first launch are produced and published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
and the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Division."
statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school
graduation rates, bakers' salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on,"
Rosling said, suggesting that the data-graphing service might expand.
The launch also
hints that Google is exploring pathways into more visually oriented search,
something further confirmed by Rosling on the Google blog.
acquisition of Trendalyzer two years ago, we have been working on creating a
new service that [makes] lots of data instantly available for intuitive, visual
exploration," she added. "Today's launch is the first step in that direction."
2007, Trendalyzer generated "moving graphics and other novel effects in the
display of facts, figures, and statistics in presentations," according to
Google, which at the time of acquisition said that the visualization tools
would be applied to future applications.
Google has made
a strategy of rolling smaller companies' technology into its own search and
productivity tools. In July 2007, the search-engine giant acquired
GrandCentral, whose technology it used to create Google Voice, a
phone-based application that lets users condense their phone numbers into a
single one, and provides added features such as automated voicemail
focus has also been on expanding its search capability. Users
can now have their Google profile displayed at the bottom of name-query search
pages, potentially allowing Google to create more of a social-networking presence
online similar to that already offered by Facebook and Twitter.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.