Saturday, August 11, 2012

Find: Census Bureau releases 'America's Economy' app for Android

Good idea. 

Statistics on the go: Census Bureau releases 'America's Economy' app for Android

America's Economy App

The US Census Bureau just released its public API last month, and now the agency has released the America's Economy app for Android phones and tablets with an iOS version in the works. By combining its own data with that of the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau's app will track real-time trends in "employment, housing construction, international trade, personal income, retail sales and manufacturing." The app was created as part of the Census Bureau's Web Transformation Project to help federal employees and the general public access accurate data about the US' socioeconomic health. Both tablet and phone versions of the app are available in the Google Play store now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Viz: Google visualizes arms trade

Pretty, but does it inform? 

A new way to visualize the global arms trade

Did you know that 60 percent of all violent deaths are due to small arms and light weapons? Small arms, such as revolvers, assault rifles and light machine guns, and ammunition represent a $8.5 billion industry, and three quarters of the world’s small arms lie in the hand of civilians—more than 650 million civilian arms. As part of the Google Ideas initiative on illicit networks, we’ve created an interactive data visualization of global small arms and ammunition trading to better understand and map the global arms trade.

The tool was produced by Google’s Creative Lab team in collaboration with the Igarape Institute. More than 1 million data points on imports and exports of small arms, light weapons and ammunition between 1992 and 2010 and across 250 states and territories across the world were provided by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) small arms database. The visualization reveals patterns and trends in imports and exports of arms and ammunition across the world, making it easy to explore how they relate to conflicts worldwide. More of the implications of this data are discussed in this video from the INFO summit hosted by Google Ideas last month:

You can explore these data points by zooming in and out of the globe, clicking on any country to readjust the view, and using the histogram tool at the bottom to see trading patterns over the years. You can see, for example, that the scale of the global trade in ammunition rivals the scale of trade in actual weapons, an insight underexplored by policymakers today in conflict prevention and resolution.

We built this visualization using the open source WebGL Globe on Google’s Chrome Experiments site; since it is open sourced, we hope to see others use the globe as a platform for bringing other complex datasets to life.

Posted by Scott Carpenter, Deputy Director, Google Ideas

Data: Reese News launching Roll Call

Reese News launching Roll Call

UNC's online news service is launching a new tool to help reporters, wonks and voters keep track of legislation.

Find: Introducing new Fusion Tables API

Introducing new Fusion Tables API

By Warren Shen, Google Fusion Tables team

Amidst all the excitement of I/O followed by the July 4th holiday in the U.S., many developers missed the announcement of the new Fusion Tables API. The new API includes all of the functionality of the existing SQL API, plus the ability to read and modify table and column metadata as well as the definitions of styles and templates for data visualization. This API is also integrated with the Google APIs console which lets developers manage all their Google APIs in one place and take advantage of built-in reporting and authentication features.

With this launch, we are also announcing a six month deprecation period for the existing SQL API. Since the new API includes all of the functionality of the existing SQL API, developers can easily migrate their applications using our migration guide.

For a detailed description of the features in the new API, please refer to the API documentation.

Posted by Ashleigh Rentz, Editor Emerita

Competition: Google Places API Developer Challenge 2012

Deadline 10/31

The power of places and big data for good: Google Places API Developer Challenge 2012

Author Picture
By Carlos Cuesta, Google Maps API Product Marketing Manager

Cross-posted with the Google Geo Developers Blog

How would you make your community or local government run better? In our first Google Places API Developer Challenge, we’re inviting developers around the world to make something that improves their communities or governments by using the Google Places API and its database of places and tools. The developers of the winning applications will receive a VIP experience at Google I/O 2013.

You might create an app or site that solves health problems, understands crime patterns, or improves commerce. You can use any platform as long as you build with the Google Places API and it benefits your community or government. We’re looking for your best and most innovative ideas.

Built on the comprehensive global database of more than 95 million places that powers Google Maps, the Google Places API enables you to search for information about a variety of nearby places such as establishments, geographic locations and prominent points of interest. You can re-rank place results based on user check-ins, and create new places specific to your app.

To help you develop your ideas and build better apps, we’ve been working with local government officials in Austin, Boston, Chicago, London, Louisville, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle along with the White House to surface a wide variety of data sets for your apps. You can find these data sets and more on the Google Places API Challenge site at and hear more about what cities have to say about the challenge here. You can also follow updates and hangouts about the challenge on +Google Maps API.

The submission window opens on August 15th and closes on October 31st, 2012.

We look forward to seeing what can happen when your imagination and the Google Places API come together!

Viz: Usain Bolt vs. 116 years of Olympic sprinters

These are very sweet. 

Usain Bolt vs. 116 years of Olympic sprinters

Usain Bolt New York Times visualization

The New York Times has published an incredible series of visualizations, using 3D models to compare today's top sprinters, swimmers, and long jumpers with athletes from every Olympic Games since 1896. The standout is a video analyzing Usain Bolt's blistering 9.63-second performance in the 100m dash last night, showing just how far ahead he is, not only of the current crop, but also of the top sprinters of yesteryear.

If Thomas Burke, gold medallist at the first modern Olympics in Athens, ran last night, he would have been more than 18m from the finish line as Bolt crossed it — he would even have been beaten by last-placed Asafa Powell, whose groin injury forced him to jog across the line in a disappointing 11.99 seconds. But it's not...

Find: Amazon launches rental service for paper textbooks

Amazon launches rental service for paper textbooks

Amazon Textbook RentalJuggernaut Amazon is striking another blow at the traditional textbook industry by offering semester-long rentals of physical books. The listings for a number of textbooks now include a "rent" option that's usually around $50 for a title that sells for $170. According to Amazon's FAQ, the books are rented out by the semester (counted as 130 days), with one 15-day extension allowed. Textbooks are shipped at standard prices, and the cost of returning them is paid by Amazon. Depending on their luck, renters might receive a book that's new or one that's gently used.

Ebay's and other sites rent textbooks at roughly similar prices, but Amazon's ubiquity means it's likely to make the practice more mainstream. While Amazon also offers a...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Viz: of coffee aromas, using a sunburst chart

Vittles Film + Counter Culture Coffee = Cafe Sense

I’m glad I ran into the guys of Vittles Film at the Indy Weekly Awards outing this weekend.  It was gorgeous weather and lots of people jammed into the American Tobacco Historic District with vendors set up showing off their flair.  As I was walking around congratulating the recent winners I stopped at a tent because I noticed a small postcard with a coffee tasting wheel advertising a documentary called “Cafe Sense”.  I had heard about this documentary through Counter Culture Coffee but had yet to watch it.  First, its a great documentary and you should check it out below or at their website here  Second, support what they are doing.  Their craft is excellent and their story telling is superb.  Hats off Vittles crew, I hope we meet again very soon!