Windows Azure Marketplace iconDid you know that there is a Windows Azure Marketplace for data? You can use it to get big datasets (some free, some paid for) to work with and integrate into your own analysis. You don’t have to be a Windows Azure user - you could just use it a source for data for a spreadsheet. It’s good for researchers and students, and also for the business-side of education (like student recruitment, or research grant applications).

The Windows Azure Data Market

There’s a list of 119 datasets currently available, which can be linked through to your own BI tools, Office applications, or your custom applications. Some of the 61 free datasets that are there include:

  • UN National Accounts Official Country Data statistics, for most countries of the world from 1970 onwards
  • UN Key Global Indicators, covering key economic, social, financial and development topics
  • UN Gender Info, containing gender statistics and indicators on a wide range of policy areas, including population, families, health, education, work, and political participation.
  • World Bank Development Indicators, from official statistics, including national, regional and global estimates
  • UN World Telecomms/ICT indicators, with over 100 data sets over 200 economies worldwide
  • UNESCO UIS Data - over 1,000 types of indicators and raw data on education, literacy, science and technology, culture and communication, collected from 200 countries.

And the list of commercial data sets, available on subscription, is amazing - such as financial information from companies like Dun & Bradstreet, food ingredient and nutrition listings from Gregg London - but there isn’t yet a comprehensive data set for Australia.

With the Data Market, you subscribe to a data set, and then can bring that data into your own work - for example, use PowerPivot in Excel to link UN Gender Data to other research data you may be working with.

  • If you’re a researcher working on a study of global economics, you can extend your research findings out by mixing your own data with official UN economy statistics.
  • Or if you are responsible for overseas student recruitment in a university or private school, you could use up to date economic or telecomms data to work out your strategy for identifying and reaching new target markets.

We’re still in the early days of this kind of data marketplace, but you can see where things are likely to be heading - As we start to see the Australian governments increasingly sharing their data with the public, I can see there will be some fascinating applications being developed that mix your own private data together with public datasets to help you make more informed decisions.

For an idea of how simple this is to use, then take a look at the 4 minute video below from Christian Liensberger, a programme manager in the Data Market team, who shows you an example of bringing national crime data into an Excel spreadsheet.

Christian’s example of building a spreadsheet using US Crime Data
     

Learn MoreLearn more in the Windows Azure Marketplace