The following blog is a review of Enigma Technology, Inc., their VC funded open source government data aggregation platform, and how that platform may be utilized in different business applications. Enjoy!
Aggregation of previously unconnected data sources is a new industry in our hyper-connected world. Enigma has focused on aggregating open source US Government data, and the question is, “What is possible with this new technology?” Given only the information from the website, this paper explores Enigma’s decision support approach in their three ‘Feature’ sections: Data Sources, Discover, and Analyze.
The technology to gather data from the open web, either directly or by scraping websites, has reached maturity#, and as a result it is simply a bureaucratic process to focus aggregation on the specific government industries they highlight (aircraft, lobbying, financial, spending, and patent). Enigma focuses on data augmentation, API access, and custom data, which is another way of saying, “We can provide standard insights or give you easy access, and we can apply these principles to whatever data sets you have in mind.” This business model is another 21st century standard: Standard charge for self-service data-applications, consult on private data-applications.
A primary feature of Government is its siloed approach to data; a classic example being sharing of intelligence# information following 9/11#. Juxtaposed data always produces new correlations between the data sets and thereby new insights, allowing for exploration previously impossible or impractical. Combined with powerful UI and self-service tools, Enigma is seeking to empower its users to recognize what’s most valuable to them, as opposed to their providing any one ‘Right’ answer, an approach broadly adopted in the software as a service (SaaS) industry and widely applied to Government data#.
Enigma’s goal is to immerse its users in the data in a meaningful way, allowing them to drill down to any detail or rise above the fray with metadata created by its standard functions and operators ala classic statistics, classification#, and data ontology#. Again utilizing a powerful UI and self-service tools#, Enigma plans to empower its users to focus on their data of interest (filtering) and choose which mathematical operations to perform on data under comparison, all with a goal of integrating previously independent Government data sets.
If the aggregated open source data is directly applicable to your existing business, by all means weigh the ROI of an Enigma subscription, however in most cases the application of this data will require more significant discussion and negotiations with potential clients, or Enigma’s self-service model will only serve as a demonstration for private or more restricted-access data. Government organizations are being charged with integrating data across ‘silos’, and services like those of Enigma will provide comprehensive tools for the first step in this process, allowing for consultation on its application and for services specializing in the chartered goals of that Government data integration.