Sunlight Labs Announces National Data Catalog

Sunlight Labs, which describes itself as an “open source development team that builds technology to make government more transparent and accountable” (sounds good to me) announced last week the National Data Catalog.

Sunlight Labs will be taking existing governmental data resources like and bringing them into one system, with the idea of making them readable and useful in toto as well as providing community features. As it’s envisioned, users will be able to submit their own data sources as well as documentation for undocumented collections, of … stuff.

There will be an API, a Web catalog, and a ruby library for the API. There’s a Google Group available with a couple dozen messages the last time I looked at it. You can get a really good idea of the possibilities (and a timeline) by checking out this proposal.

From the proposal it looks like the first phase of the National Data Catalog is slated to launch at the end of Q3, with an alpha actually being made available in just a couple of weeks at the end of July! The initial end of Q3 launch is going to include state and major city information as well as federal information, so I’m pretty excited about that.

This is just a huge, audacious idea — cataloging data sources from all the states, the federal government, quasi-governmental sources into one big community-commented (hopefully community-enhanced and community-documented) catalog. Sunlight Labs wants to know what you’re interested in seeing in the catalog; if you like you can submit data sources to this Google Spreadsheet. You can also follow Clay Johnson of Sunlight Labs on Twitter.

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