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Data-Planet Provides Value-Added Aggregation of Statistical Data
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Posted On March 12, 2007
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Conquest Systems, Inc. (www.conquestsystems.com) has introduced Data-Planet (www.data-planet.com), a new Web-based service that aggregates current and historical public statistical data from many U.S. federal agencies as well as data from nongovernment organizations. Data-Planet is designed to provide one-stop access to government and commercial data sets including U.S. demographics, business statistics, and federal data. All are available by geography and time period in a robust, easy-to-use display. Proprietary visual analysis tools allow users to present data in charts, graphs, and maps. A slide show creator lets users collect a series of screens, place them in sequential order, and use them at meetings, in presentations, or for personal review. Researchers can also create custom dashboards that provide alerts to monitor trends.

Conquest Systems president and CEO Richard Landry said: "Researchers can spend astounding amounts of time and money compiling public data from multiple agencies. Now Data-Planet offers a single, affordable resource that is the most comprehensive collection of publicly interesting data online. Our robust data resource, combined with the tools that make the data meaningful, will greatly improve researchers' lives."

It's the correlation capabilities that set Data-Planet apart. Users can map the correlation between high school dropout and juvenile arrest rates state by state or study the ratio between the federal budget and the national gross domestic product. How about comparing Lockheed Martin's stock prices over the years with Department of Defense spending? It becomes easy to quickly spot relationships among data using the visual tools.

The aggregation of data is a key benefit. Users don't have to know which agencies' Web sites to visit or think about pulling diverse content together—it's all done for them. At this point, the data is organized in folders by the source, but Landry said that a subject arrangement would be coming soon and should prove easier for users who might not know the source of specific data.

Federal agencies include the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Center for Health Statistics, and many others. The service also includes mortgage info from Fannie Mae, election results data, London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR) data from the British Bankers' Association, and historical stock closing and volume date (licensed from Price-Data; www.price-data.com) on every public company going back 30 years. Landry said the service is adding about 10 new sources each month. (See the preliminary list of sources in what follows; a more complete list will soon be added to the site.)

The Data-Planet product uses the same software that Conquest Systems licenses to large organizations. The company's WebCEO product is an enterprise application that provides information about a company's performance to its decision makers. It provides visual tools that enable companies to understand and compare key performance indicator (KPI) metrics up and down the organization, across time, or any user-defined dimension. It works with internal data. Landry said customers for WebCEO include the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Labor, NIST, and others. He said the company is working to combine its two products so that users of WebCEO could access the aggregated statistical content of Data-Planet from within their applications.

Users from some of Conquest's agency customers consulted with the company while it developed Data-Planet. In addition, the database aggregator CSA arranged for some focus groups of librarians and end-user researchers to be available to Data-Planet's developers. Matt Dunie, president of CSA (now ProQuest CSA), said he was introduced to Landry by a mutual friend and served as a "friendly advisor" to Conquest during development of the new product. He said he was intrigued by the product and thought it could be useful for some CSA customers. However, the companies currently have no relationship. Dunie said: "It's a cool product that offers very interesting capabilities. I'm impressed that it aggregates data from so many disparate sources and makes it usable and meaningful so quickly. The on-the-fly cross tabulations are unique." Dunie sees its potential usefulness in many settings, including banks, research organizations, and libraries.

Elana Broch, a ssistant population research librarian at Princeton University, was involved in a focus group last summer. She said she feels that more advanced research level students would probably not find it as useful as freshman and sophmore users, but she acknowledged that Princeton offered fairly sophisticated data labs and research assistance. Other markets that she feels might welcome such a tool include public and high school libraries and news media. One enhancement she'd like to see in the product is a tie-in with bibliographic databases, such as Sociological Abstracts—both linking from an article to data and from the data to articles that reference the data. She found the product easy to use and liked the interface.

At this point, clicking on the help icon in Data-Planet doesn't provide context-sensitive help. It pops up a new window with the WebCEO User Guide and a clickable table-of-contents. Because this covers the software product and not Data-Planet, it gives no information about the sources or working with the content, though it covers the same basic functions. Landry said the help functions in Data-Planet would be improved over the coming weeks.

Russell Perkins, CEO of InfoCommerce Group and a recognized database publishing expert, said: "Data-Planet is a very powerful and intuitive application that makes a wealth of key statistical data easy to access, interpret, and use. It's a great example of value-added aggregation—moving beyond simply offering a collection of datasets in one place to truly improving their utility."

Data-Planet offers unlimited access to all data and analysis tools for $49.95 per month or $495 per year. Multiseat enterprise pricing is also available.

Conquest Systems is a privately held, Washington, D.C.-based business intelligence software company that was founded by Landry in 1989.

Preliminary List of Data Sources

Population Estimates

Census Bureau

New Home Sales

Census Bureau

Poverty

Census Bureau

Household Income

Census Bureau

Population Projections

Census Bureau

Building Permits

Census Bureau

Federal Budget

Office of Management and Budget

Average Electric Energy Price

Energy Information Administration

Crude Oil Production

Energy Information Administration

Retail Gas Prices

Energy Information Administration

National GDP

Bureau of Economic Analysis

State GDP

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Personal Income

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Employment by Industry

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Construction Spending

Bureau of Economic Analysis

Unemployment

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Consumer Expenditures

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Producer Price Index (PPI)

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Inflation

Calculated from CPI

Employee Benefits

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employee Injuries and Illness

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Overweight/Obesity

National Center for Health Statistics

Cholesterol

National Center for Health Statistics

Consumer Credit

Federal Reserve Board

Manufacturing Capacity Utilization

Federal Reserve Board

Money Stock Measures

Federal Reserve Board

Exchange Rates

Federal Reserve Board

Terms of Credit

Federal Reserve Board

Industrial Productivity

Federal Reserve Board

Purchasing Managers Index (PMI)

Institute for Supply Management

Stock Closing and Volume

Price-Data

Voting

Census Bureau

School Census

National Center for Educational Statistics

Dropout Rates

National Center for Educational Statistics

School Summaries

National Center for Educational Statistics

Uniform Crime Reports

FBI

Weather Events and Measurements

NOAA

Airline Delays

FAA


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.



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