What the new Data USA project reveals about the District - Technical.ly DC

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Apr. 5, 2016 12:20 pm

What the new Data USA project reveals about the District

The new project out of the MIT Media Lab aims to be “the most comprehensive visualization of U.S. public data.”
The Data USA homepage.

The Data USA homepage.


On Monday a team out of the MIT Media Lab launched Data USA, a platform that aims to be “the most comprehensive visualization of U.S. public data.”

Data USA is a collaboration between Deloitte, Datawheel and Cesar Hidalgo, a professor at the MIT Media Lab. It’s also the culmination of two years of work by a team of economists, data scientists, designers and more, all looking to transform great troves of public government data into something comprehensible and actionable, no matter your training.

The project is free and open source, and it’s filled with fascinating data treasures.

We took a look through the Washington, D.C. page to see what Data USA can tell us about this city. Here are just a few pieces of information that stood out:

  • Once again, some statistical confirmation that D.C. is young. The median age of a D.C. resident is 33.8 — with native-born residents skewing slight younger (32.7) than their foreign-born counterparts (38.2).
  • Speaking of D.C.’s foreign population, the most common country of origin for a D.C. resident is El Salvador. (Shoutout to papusas.) The District also has a relatively high number of residents who were born in Togo.
  • The most common college major of D.C. citizens is general business administration, followed by international affairs. No surprises here. ?
  • The average commute travel time in D.C. is 27.8 minutes, and 38.5 percent of people (the largest share) take public transportation to work. Despite our griping about WMATA, it remains a powerful and important source of mobility.
  • The median income in D.C. is just over $71,000, but white men make more than their female and racially diverse counterparts. High-earning residents tend to live in NW, while low-earning residents are clustered in NE and Anacostia.

There’s so much more.


Data USA hopes the platform will be useful and interesting to a broad range of people. From the website:

If you are a recent college graduate, Data USA can help you find locations with the greatest opportunities for the job you want and the major you have. If you are a policymaker, Data USA can be a powerful input to economic and workforce development programs. … These are just a few examples of how an open data platform like Data USA can benefit everyday citizens, business and government.

Get exploring then tell us — what’s the most surprising or intriguing to scary or sad thing you learned about our fair city by immersing yourself in this data?


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