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Charting A New Course: Google Offers Data Visualization Feature

Google announced a new search feature that can that serve up charts and graphs.

Google

Google has launched a new search feature that serves up charts and graphs when users search for publicly available data such as populations and employment statistics. Google announced the new capability in a blog posted Tuesday by product manager Ola Rosling.

Using the new feature, for example, a search on "unemployment rate" or "population" followed by a U.S. state or county will return a box with statistics, a small chart and a link that takes the user to an interactive chart where the user can add or remove data. The example in the blog displays monthly changes in Santa Clara County's unemployment rate between 1990 and February 2009.

Initially the new charting feature works only with data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau's Population Division, according to Rosling's blog. But Google is promising to expand over time the available data.

"The data we're including in this first launch represents just a small fraction of all the interesting public data available on the Web," she wrote. "There are statistics for prices of cookies, CO2 emissions, asthma frequency, high school graduation rates, bakers' salaries, number of wildfires, and the list goes on."

Google has been developing the chart feature for about two years, following the company's March 2007 acquisition of Gapminder's Trendalyzer, software that generates interactive graphics and other effects to display data and statistics.

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