Back when I was graduating from Columbia, two chums of mine decided to go into intellectual property rights, a burgeoning field, before they were sure what to do in it.
Wisely, they positioned themselves well, because two years later in 2009, President Obama, for the sake of transparency, deemed that all public data from all public offices had to be released in a digital export form.
However, in many ways this policy of the administration was never realized until Mark DaCosta and Hicham Oudghiri launched Engima.io in March of 2014, a tool which allows you to search all public records.
There are numerous possible applications for Enigma.io. Journalists no doubt used it to help blow the top off of the story that methane fields in the US had such big leaks: the Guardian reported on leaks in the US, but commented that this public information is simply not available in the UK. If not for this information, the full impact of methane fields on climate change would not have been understood.
Another possible use is for financial types to stay on top of emerging news about companies to invest in: this tool will tell them all the writing on the wall. A quick search on Koch Industries, for example, sifts up Toxicity Reports, plans in South Dakota, an ecologically delicate area over America’s largest acquifer they were trying to drill in (according to enigma, they’ve managed nonetheless to get their hands on 98 wells in the state, and it even provides directions for you to go see them), lists of employees and titles from CrunchBase. You can even see the details of their company headquarters in the UK.
EAP, Department of the Interior, Defense, Senate, Government Spending: its interactions with every single government department have been meticulously logged. It’s a journalist’s dream. For paid support, they will even provide you with data sets, support, and more.
Can anyone else think of any other great uses for the public data on Engima? Let us know what you find!