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The Wall Street Journal, in its “Journal Report/Big Data” section, posted an interesting article by Joel Schectman, “Public Data…at Your Fingertips: Federal and state governments are a trove of information. Now a lot of it is just an app away.”


Schectman goes on to state: “Most government data have been available to the public for decades. But trying to find information quickly and in a useful format has been another story altogether.

All that is starting to change. A growing open-government movement has pushed successfully for state and federal data to be made more readily available online, in user-friendly formats. And the federal government has begun to release its data in a digital format that allows software engineers to more easily use it to develop interactive applications. App developers are now mixing and matching government data to help consumers, businesses and researchers harvest new insight.”

The article lists data ranging from Labor and Health Violations; Salaries; Business-Owner Addresses; Hospital Records; Flu Incidences; Energy Prices; What’s Offshore; Where the Sun shines; Food and Fitness, and Nanotechnology. Big data is freely available and can be sized down to a granular level.

Two government Big Data sites that can be helpful to proposal writers are available from the U.S. Census Bureau. The first is TIGER/Line.

Screenshot of TIGER/Line.Another excellent source is OnTheMap. OnTheMap overlays Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data layers such as Regions; States; Congressional Districts; State Legislative Districts; Metropolitan/Miropolitan Areas; Counties; Cities; Census Tracts; Zip Codes; Transportation: Interstates; Highways; Local Roads; Railroads; Amtrak Stations; Airports; Workforce Layers-Including WIRED Regions and Workforce Investment Areas; One Stop Career Centers and EDUCATION—Unified / Elementary Districts; Secondary School Districts; Universities and OTHER LAYERS—Tribal Lands; Tribal Subdivisions and BACKGROUND LAYERS—Lakes, Rivers, Ponds; Green Space- Parks, Forests.

For proposals, how are these data sources significant? They are excellent visual graphics that can be incorporated into your proposal Overview, describing where you are located in relationship to your state, region and the nation. For the proposal Needs section, they are excellent representations of your demographics, income levels, poverty, and other special characteristics that will enhance your needs for funding.

Once you establish these Big Data graphic parameters, they can be adapted to fit different funding sources and can be updated on an annual basis. But more importantly, they complement your text while providing visual punch to your proposal!

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