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

Website development

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]

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.[6]

Forks

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.[7][8]

On January 6, 2016, a blog post on analytics.usa.gov discussed adaptations of analytics.usa.gov by three regional governments and government agencies in the United States, including comments by people who had worked on each of the adaptations.[9] The adaptations were for: the city of Philadelphia (noted above), the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation,[10] and the city of Boulder, Colorado.

As of July 7, 2017, the following adaptations are listed on the main README of the analytics.usa.gov GitHub repository:[11]

City governments

Entity Type of entity U.S. state (if applicable) Population in thousands (latest estimate from Wikipedia page as of July 7, 2017) Launch date (if available)
Anchorage[12] City Alaska 298
Apex[13] City North Carolina 47
Boulder City Colorado 108
Cabarrus County[14] County North Carolina 202
Chesapeake[15] City Virginia 233
Concord[16] City North Carolina 90
Cook County[17] County Illinois 5238
Douglas County[18] County Nebraska 550
Eagle Mountain[19] City Utah 23
Evanston[20] City Illinois 75
Jersey (States of Jersey)[21] Country N/A
Jersey City[22] City New Jersey 264
Los Angeles[23] City California 3976
Moulton Niguel Water District (Laguna Niguel)[24] District California
Newark[25] City New Jersey 282
New Orleans[26] City Louisiana 391
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)[27] Agency within state government New York 19745
Norristown[28] Borough Pennsylvania 34
Omaha[29] City Nebraska 447
Philadelphia[7] City Pennsylvania 1568 April 22, 2015
Pleasanton[30] City California 82
Princeton[31] City New Jersey 31
Rowan County County North Carolina 139
Sacramento[32] City California 495
San Francisco[33] City California 870
San Leandro[34] City California 90
Santa Monica[35] City California 92
Seattle[36] City Washington 704
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation[10] Agency within federal government Tennessee 6651
United States Department of Education[37] Agency within federal government 325146
United States Department of Veterans Affairs[38] Agency within federal government 325146
Washington State University[39] University 30

Technology

The 18F blog provided a detailed description of the technology stack used to build the website,[40] which was picked up by Hacker News[41] and formed the basis of a more picture-heavy version in Storify.[42] 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.[43] The JSON result is stored to Amazon S3 and served statically through Amazon CloudFront.[40] The entire website's code is also available in a GitHub repository.[44]

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.[41] 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][45]

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.[46] 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."[47]

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.[48]

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. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ a b "analytics.phila.gov". Philadelphia government. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Philadelphia forks Analytics.USA.gov for local use". GCN. April 22, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  9. ^ Kramer, Melody (January 6, 2016). "Tips for adapting analytics.usa.gov from Tennessee, Boulder, and Philadelphia". GSA. Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  10. ^ a b "Tennesse Department of Environment & Conservation Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  11. ^ "README for analytics.usa.gov". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  12. ^ "analytics.muni.org (Analytics for Anchorage, Alaska)". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Town of Apex, NC Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Carabbus County Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  15. ^ "City of Chesapeake, VA Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  16. ^ "City of Concord, NC Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Cook County Government Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Nebraska Douglas County Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  19. ^ "Eagle Mountain City, UT Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Evanston, IL Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  21. ^ "webanalytics.gov.je (States of Jersey analytics)". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Jersey City, NJ Data Portal". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  23. ^ "webanalytics.lacity.gov (Los Angeles City Government Analytics)". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Moulton Niguel Water District Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Newark, NJ Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  26. ^ "webanalytics.nola.gov (Analytics for New Orleans, Louisiana)". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  27. ^ "NYSERDA". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Norristoen, PA Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  29. ^ "City of Omaha Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  30. ^ "City of Pleasanton, CA Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  31. ^ "Princeton, NJ Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  32. ^ "City of Sacramento Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  33. ^ "San Francisco SFGOV Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  34. ^ "City of San Leandro, CA Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  35. ^ "analytics.smgov.net (Santa Monica Analytics)". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  36. ^ "Seattle, WA Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  37. ^ "ED Web Dashboard". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  38. ^ "VA Website Analytics". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  39. ^ "analytics.wsu.edu (Washington State University Analytics)". Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  40. ^ a b "How we built analytics.usa.gov". 18F. March 19, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  41. ^ a b "How we built analytics.usa.gov (comments)". Hacker News. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  42. ^ "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. 
  43. ^ "analytics-reporter". 18F on GitHub. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  44. ^ "analytics.usa.gov". GSA on GitHub. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  45. ^ Bell, Karissa (March 19, 2015). "You can now see analytics for U.S. government websites". Mashable. Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  46. ^ "analytics.usa.gov". Retrieved March 21, 2015. 
  47. ^ Boone, Greg (March 18, 2015). "Why analytics.usa.gov Matters". Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  48. ^ 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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