Analytics.usa.gov

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Analytics.usa.gov
Owner General Services Administration
Created by 18F
Registration None
Launched March 15, 2015; 2 years ago (2015-03-15)

Analytics.usa.gov is a website of the government of the United States, created through a collaboration between GSA's Digital Analytics Program and 18F, based on unified Google Analytics data for some .gov domains.[1]

History

Analytics.usa.gov was launched on March 19, 2015 with data for about 300 (out of 1350) .gov domains, including every cabinet department.[2][3][4][5]

Around April 22, 2015, the government of Philadelphia launched its own analytics website at analytics.phila.gov, built using a forked version of the source code developed for analytics.usa.gov.[6][7]

On February 18, 2016, analytics.usa.gov introduced agency-specific dashboards for its participating agencies: users could now filter to results only from that specific agency.[8]

Technology

The 18F blog provided a detailed description of the technology stack used to build the website,[9] which was picked up by Hacker News[10] and formed the basis of a more picture-heavy version in Storify.[11] The data is collected through a unified Google Analytics account that stores anonymized IP addresses to preserve privacy. This is periodically queried using an open source analytics tool built by 18F called the analytics reporter, whose repository is available on GitHub.[12] The JSON result is stored to Amazon S3 and served statically through Amazon CloudFront.[9] The entire website's code is also available in a GitHub repository.[13]

Reception

Privacy concerns

A number of people expressed concerns about the storage of potentially private user data in Google Analytics, despite the IP address anonymization.[10] The creators of analytics.usa.gov emphasized that they were concerned with privacy and therefore only revealed aggregated data to the public, rather than allowing arbitrary queries on the data.[4][14]

Analysis of data and suggestions for improvement

Discussion of the analytics focused on the fact that pages from the Internal Revenue Service were among the most visited, and the "Where's My Refund?" page had the top spot. This was explained by the timing: taxes were due April 15 and many people had started the process of tax filing.[3][4] Other top visited pages were on the websites of the National Weather Service, National Park Service, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and StopBullying.gov.[15] Greg Boone wrote that analytics.usa.gov is an active expression of government "for the people, of the people, and by the people." He elaborated: "All told, there were nearly 1.4 billion (with a b) people who interacted with the government in the last 90 days. [...] They're coming to the government for information and help they know only the US government can provide. They're coming for public services and resources they can use to improve people lives."[16]

Writing for GovFresh, Luke Fretwell praised analytics.usa.gov and suggested it would be helpful if each agency's website had an analytics subpage that provided information on analytics just for that agency. He also suggested that government agencies avoid spending resources on apps and instead aim to make their main websites more mobile-friendly, and that they reduce their sites' focus on information about the agency and make the services offered more front-and-center. He also recommended that data on spending on websites be made available in conjunction with data on website traffic so that the return on investment to spending would be clearer.[17]

References

  1. ^ "Explanation, analytics.usa.gov". Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Turning Government Data into Better Public Service". White House. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Ruiz, Rebecca (March 20, 2015). "A Real-Time Peek at Traffic to U.S. Government Websites". New York Times Bits blog. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Brown, Molly (March 19, 2015). "Several U.S. government websites now offer real-time analytics". GeekWire. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Who’s online now? 18F builds web analytics dashboard". GCN. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  6. ^ "analytics.phila.gov". Philadelphia government. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Philadelphia forks Analytics.USA.gov for local use". GCN. April 22, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  8. ^ Lowden, Tim; Brooks, Gray; Ramirez, Gabriel; Mill, Eric; Winn, Julia; Craig, Colin (February 18, 2016). "Analytics.usa.gov: Now with Agency-Specific Dashboards". DigitalGov. Retrieved June 9, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "How we built analytics.usa.gov". 18F. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "How we built analytics.usa.gov (comments)". Hacker News. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Building and releasing analytics.usa.gov. The U.S. federal government now has a public dashboard and dataset for its web traffic, analytics.usa.gov. Here's a look at how it was built and what people said after it was released.". General Services Administration via Storify. March 20, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  12. ^ "analytics-reporter". 18F on GitHub. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  13. ^ "analytics.usa.gov". GSA on GitHub. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  14. ^ Bell, Karissa (March 19, 2015). "You can now see analytics for U.S. government websites". Mashable. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  15. ^ "analytics.usa.gov". Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  16. ^ Boone, Greg (March 18, 2015). "Why analytics.usa.gov Matters". Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  17. ^ Fretwell, Luke (March 23, 2015). "Quick thoughts, takeaways from the new federal government analytics dashboard". GovFresh. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 

External links

  • Official website
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