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Coming Soon: Safety.Data.Gov, a Portal for All Federal Safety Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, April 16 2012

The federal Department of Transportation will take the lead on a new, federal-government-wide portal to safety data, it announced in a recent update to its Open Government Plan, which was first published in 2010.

The plans were required of each federal agency in President Barack Obama's 2010 Open Government Directive.

In its report, the DOT says it took a new approach with its 2012-2014 plan to "focus our planning efforts on specific, new initiatives and the public value they would create," while the first report in 2010 had been more focused on the "policy, cultural and technology barriers to overcome to lay the groundwork for increasing transparency, participation and collaboration in our daily work."

DOT plans this month to soft-launch safety.data.gov, a portal with the goal of empowering "people to make more informed decisions about all aspects of their safety in real time including, but not limited to, food, crime, traffic, and consumer product safety."

Per the report:

The safety community on data.gov will allow members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise, suggesting datasets to be provided through the portal or highlighting applications and models that promote the use of safety data. The community will provide both blogs and forums to facilitate these types of contributions, and agencies will conduct outreach to a wide array of stakeholders.

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The DOT also plans to move into data visualization with a new tool, to be launched this month, in the hopes of explaining complex transportation issues in simpler ways. The American Public Transportation Association will conduct a survey this year to gather feedback from the transit industry about the state of open transit data, according to DOT's report. After APTA releases the results to the public, the Federal Transit Administration "will study the results to identify the benefits of and hurdles to open data programs across the U.S. and to inform future efforts on encouraging open transit data nationwide," the report says.

The DOT plans to relaunch its web presence in summer 2012, and by September 2012, DOT plans to launch new social media accounts including on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr — promising to engage with social media users rather than just broadcast.

The previous flagship effort of the DOT was the creation of the Regulation Room, which aimed at making federal rulemaking more accessible. Since it launched in February 2010, the website has collected 1,200 registered users and 30,000 unique site visits.

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