Google has decided to open its Public Data Explorer service to anyone wishing to upload data to it, significantly broadening the scope of contributors beyond the current handpicked roster.
Google launched Public Data Explorer about a year ago as a tool for people who aren't necessarily tech-savvy nor statisticians to research, analyze and visualize sets of data about topics like rates of unemployment, income, diseases, population and life expectancy.
Until now, Google has fed the tool with data from organizations like the U.S. Census Bureau, the World Bank, Eurostat and the International Monetary Fund. These official data providers are featured in the site's directory and have helped Google refine and improve the site with their feedback.
But on Wednesday, Google is adding an upload interface to the site and making the service's data format open for use by anyone. The format, called Dataset Publishing Language (DSPL), is based on XML and built for use in interactive graphics.
While Google will reserve inclusion in the official directory to government agencies and well-known organizations, anyone will be able to upload data to the site, generate graphs and share them with others if they wish, said Benjamin Yolken, Google Public Data product manager.
"We hope the process [of adding data sets] will accelerate with this launch," he said.
Despite this upgrade, the Public Data Explorer retains the Labs label, which means Google still considers it an early stage, experimental project.