The tool is specifically designed for avid data crunchers like students, journalists, policy makers, and could be seen as Google’s prettified approach to a user-driven computational search engine (think Wolfram Alpha). Public Data Explorer is its own dedicated utility that expands and improves upon existing functionality added to the search experience last year.
Interested parties can visually dissect — in time-lapsed animation fashion and in an array of chart types — things like fertility rate by country, employment rates, and the flux of mortality rates in the U.S. Data is provided by the World Bank, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, the California Department of Education and four other public agencies. The visual animation technology comes from Trendalyzer, a service that Google purchased back in 2007.
Google Public Data Explorer covers 80 different topics in the public data sector, focusing on the most popular topics as determined by search queries on Google.com. Users can explore ready-made charts or toy with data and reshape the visualizations into line graphs, bar graphs, maps and bubble charts. Charts can also be shared by direct URL or embed.
While most of us won’t need this sophisticated of a tool on frequent occasions, it’s easy to see how this data could be extremely useful to researchers and those looking to understand the important trends that happen over time.