About FRED

On Monday, the Most Awesome Open Data Site in America, The Federal Reserve’s FRED, published 54,000 new datasets. This brings the total number of datasets available on FRED to a staggering 212,000. At this point, the Federal Reserve has uploaded so much data that this latest batch even includes esoteric datasets like the number of employees in the Metropolitan Detroit area receiving health care and social assistance.

Reinvent Albany has written about FRED before, back in December 2012, when it had just over 60,000 datasets. At that point, it was by far the largest open data site in the country; we didn’t just praise the sheer volume of datasets, but also the innovative technical features:

FRED’s site helps a range of users find data and use it via multiple searching and browsing options, APIs with numerous software wrappers, mobile appsmaps, a cool Excel add-in, developer page. Also: an About page which describes the evolution of the site and the thinking behind its design and implementation.

In fact, FRED is so good at making data available that many people — two million annual users — rely on its APIs, RSS and Excel feature to update data originally generated by other government or banking sources.

FRED’s open data offering is so strong because the St. Louis Fed is using the data it’s sharing with the public. Therefore, FRED faces internal pressure to evolve and improve. Internal use is especially important for government open data approaches, because they do not otherwise have the same kind of strong public feedback signals that commercial sites get from selling advertising space or making online sales.

Congratulations to FRED on its first 200,000 datasets. We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with for the next 200,000.