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The Power of Visualization – MIT DataViz Guru Make Data Beautiful

MIT Media Lab, in partnership with Deloitte and the data visualization startup Datawheel, has just launched a very impressive piece work called Data USA for mining and visualizing US government open data.

The platform combines datasets from various sources:

After picking a location such as a city, the tool will quickly show you the statistics of population, median household income and median age. If you want to further drill down into the details, you can choose one item from the 5 categories:

  • Economy
  • Demographics
  • Education
  • Housing & Living
  • Health & Safety


Data USA makes data investigation becomes very entertaining, and obviously it will be a valuable tool for all business analysts, academic researchers and policy makers.

Four major types of interactive visualization techniques are offered in the tool:




Bar Charts









As John Brownlee described:

 “From a user perspective, Data USA is an easy-to-search resource that aims to surface the stories in public data. Search for your hometown, and Data USA will present you with everything it knows about where you were born in a series of dynamically generated charts and graphs. That doesn’t just include obvious metrics like population, wage distribution, or racial breakdown, but also more obscure ones such as your hometown’s most specialized jobs, the most common non-English languages, and what industries are thriving (or declining) there. In addition to searching by city, you can also view data visualizations across whole industries, occupations, and educational backgrounds. Hovering on any Data USA chart or graph breaks down what is being visualized, while readable modern fonts and colorful creative commons images make every page beautiful.”

Data is powerful; information is beautiful.  I hope this work can inspire other government agencies and help them re-think the ways to present and share their data.

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