This We Know started as a side project that we designed and developed with the team at Green River. Our goal was to offer a data portal to the then brand new Data.gov.
In 2009 Data.gov launched and started sharing information that the U.S. government collects about every community. Unfortunately the new portal was designed for policy experts and lacked a way for the general public to search across the available catalog. To make the catalog more accessible and appealing, we developed ThisWeKnow.org, a single online destination that provides a simple, browsable format for exploring the data sets in Data.gov.
Presenting Queries as Simple Sentences
To manage the amount of information available on Data.gov, we developed a ‘factoid’ approach for ThisWeKnow.org that presents queries as simple sentences that describe a city or town. For example, a search for Los Angeles returns a factoid that “38,663 people were diagnosed with cancer” in the county. Searching by location is a common online task for most people and this familiar entry point makes it easy for users to jump right in and explore the data browser.
Loved by Data Wonks and U.S. Senators
ThisWeKnow.org made a big splash in the data community when we released it. It was nominated for the ‘Apps for America: The data.gov challenge competition’ sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation and was praised by TechCrunch and ID Magazine for the simplicity of its design and usability. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) highlighted the app in a speech called “Empowering The Public’s Right To Know” when he said:
“The public’s right to know is a cornerstone of our democracy. This We Know is designed to make what was once a difficult and time-consuming process into a faster and more streamlined experience.”