Google Dataset Search out of beta with new features

Google Dataset Search out of beta with new features

Google’s Natasha Noy said in a post today that Google Dataset Search “is officially out of beta,” and went on to detail a number of new features that have been added based on what was “learned from the early adopters of Dataset Search.”

These new features are briefly described below.

Google Dataset Search filtering

“You can now filter the results based on the types of dataset that you want (e.g., tables, images, text), or whether the dataset is available for free from the provider.”

The “types of dataset” filter is materialized in Dataset search as “Download Format”, with the current options currently available (in order of their presentation on desktop):

  • Table
  • Document
  • Image
  • Text
  • Other
Download format filters now available on Google Dataset Search
Download format filters now available on Google Dataset Search

“Free” is a one-click filter.

Google Dataset Search results filtered to display free datasets only
Google Dataset Search results filtered to display free datasets only

Embedded maps

“If a dataset is about a geographic area, you can see the map.”

Based on my unscientific sampling these are anything but ubiquitous, but here’s one example I was able to find.

A map displayed within a Google Dataset Search result
A map displayed within a Google Dataset Search result

Mobile availability and improved descriptions

“… the product is now available on mobile and we’ve significantly improved the quality of dataset descriptions.”

As per the screen captures below I can attest to the presence of a mobile-friendly Dataset Search interface, although I could not find the filters now present on desktop (the pop-up “about” screen on mobile declares that “Dataset Search is still in beta” so perhaps they’ll become available in a future update).

Google Dataset Search search results and dataset on mobile
Google Dataset Search search results and dataset on mobile

How the quality of descriptions have been improved I cannot say, as I would think these would be derived from the providers’ structured data. Perhaps Google is now ingesting more of this, or augmenting provider-provided data with other information.

Google Dataset Search coverage and search usage

The post contains some high-level bullets about the coverage of Dataset Search and how it has so far been used.

  • The country with the largest number of open government datasets is the United States, with more than 2,000,000.
  • The most popular data format is (surprise!) tables, with more than 6,000,000 in Dataset Search.
  • Dataset Search users include academic researchers, students, business analysts and data scientists.
  • Popular queries include “education,” “weather,” “cancer,” “crime,” “soccer,” and “dogs”. Wondering what to name your new sled dog?

Dataset Search requirements remain the same

“One thing hasn’t changed however,” says Noy, is that “anybody who publishes data can make their datasets discoverable in Dataset Search by using an open standard (schema.org) to describe the properties of their dataset on their own web page.”

The primary schema.org type implicated here is Dataset, and Google has detailed documentation on how to use Dataset markup (or equivalent DCAT structures) to have datasets included in Dataset Search.

Google's requirements for inclusion in Dataset Search
Google’s requirements for inclusion in Dataset Search

Google also maintains an FAQ on structured data markup for datasets which provides additional guidance on the topic.

Aaron Bradley

Aaron Bradley is Knowledge Graph Strategist at Electronic Arts, and chief cook and bottle washer at The Graph Lounge.

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