What is public data?

Public data is all data in the public domain. Public data reflects more of our everyday lives than most of us realize. It’s everywhere, from a plane taking off at an airport to a barrel of crude oil flowing through a pipeline to a new drug being approved. These things exist in specific and separate public datasets, but together, they can provide a vast and powerful view of what’s happening in the world.

We believe that society will only be able to tackle tough challenges if people can freely access and analyze public data. That’s why we’re committed to building tools and platforms that enable people to work together to hold the public and private sector accountable, challenge inequality, and promote a robust civil society.

Where does the data come from?

Data in Enigma Public comes from a variety of sources — state, local, and federal governments, as well as non-government organizations, academic research and other sources. Our coverage is strongest for the United States, but we’re looking to grow and change that!

The data on Enigma Public comes from a variety of sources — many datasets are received through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, are purchased and sent to us on CD or are otherwise inaccessible elsewhere online.

If you know of any other datasets that you think we should have that we don’t, or if you would like to make your organization’s or project’s data widely available through Enigma Public, let us know. Reach out at public-support@enigma.com. We love hearing from you and working together to make Public stronger.

How can I hear about new data?

We’re adding new sources all the time. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to hear the latest on datasets newly added to Enigma, learn about datasets you never knew existed and find data that reflects the news. For logged-in users newly added datasets are also be featured on Enigma Public’s homepage.

If this data is public, can’t I get it myself?

Public data means data in the public domain — not the same as accessible data. It’s a common misconception.

Working with public data can mean CD-ROMs. It can mean FOIA requests. It can mean hours on the phone with a local government agent in Abilene, Texas. It can mean deciphering a code value for every column name. It can mean trying to see connections across multiple datasets each containing millions of rows of datasets.

Working with public data can be hard, even if you’re a trained data scientist. Working with public data can be nearly impossible if you’re not.

We think working with public data shouldn’t be this hard. So we collect as many public datasets as we can. We make that collection open and searchable for everyone. We provide critical context and advice.

We do all of this so that public data gets into the hands of the public. So that our community can discover new data, and understand it, and ultimately connect to real world questions and problems.

For commercial use and for those who need a specialized method of data delivery, look into our data packages and data operations solutions.

Can I report an error or request a new dataset?

Yes, please do! Enigma Public is a community platform that grows better from the feedback of its enthusiastic data users. Found an issue with a dataset? Let us know. Know of another dataset or source of data that we should add? Let me know. Reach out at public-support@enigma.com.