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Data Finder

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Basic Information



How do I use Data Finder?
What kinds of data does Data Finder include?
What metadata does Data Finder provide?
How are data sources organized?
Are all of EPA's data available on Data Finder?
Can I suggest data sources for Data Finder?
Why is a data source not available on Data Finder?
Where else can I find environmental data?
How often is Data Finder updated?
What are EPA's plans for revising Data Finder?
What is the difference between Data Finder and Data.gov?
Why did EPA develop Data Finder?
Will my comments be read?

How do I use Data Finder?
Data sources in Data Finder are available by searching or browsing. Data Finder's search box is available at the top of the home page and is the easiest way to locate data sets. Alternately, we provide three ways to browse data sources. The following topics are available below the search bar on the home page: Air, Climate Change, Health Risks, Pollutants & Contaminants, Waste, and Water. You can also browse topics on the right side of the home page using a Quick Finder or an A-Z topic index.


What kinds of data does Data Finder include?
Data Finder points people to data sources that are owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Each data source is available on the Internet and must have downloadable data in order to be included in the site. The data can be available either through a direct download page or a query page, must be analytical in nature, and must not be geospatial data. Some data sources have been excluded from Data Finder because they do not meet this criteria.

Click here to see the links to data sources that we have considered but were not included because of these criteria.


What metadata does Data Finder provide?
For each data source, Data Finder contains this descriptive metadata (click on a Expand/Contract link):

  • Description: Brief explanation of the data source
  • URL: Web link to the data source
  • Taxonomy: Topic areas that describe the data source (e.g., air, water)
  • EPA Organization: EPA office that supports the data source
  • Geography: Geographic scale of the data source (national, regional, or state)
  • Reference/Registry: Data sources that are authoritative sources (e.g., for facilities)
  • Authorization Required: People need to register to use the data source
  • Service Enabled: Services (e.g., Web services) are available to automate delivery of content from the data source
  • Dataset Formats: Formats in which datasets are available (e.g., csv, xls)


How are data sources organized?
Data Finder uses EPA's standard Web terminology (EPA Web Taxonomy) which allows audiences to easily find and access relevant information from EPA programs.


Are all of EPA's data available on Data Finder?
Data Finder includes many data sources but we acknowledge that it is not complete. EPA's goal is to include all of EPA's publicly-available, non-geospatial data on Data Finder. We welcome your suggestions for additional data sources you think should be included.


Can I suggest data sources for Data Finder?
Yes. It would be helpful to know the URL, description, point of contact, etc. We welcome your suggestions.


Why is a data source not available on Data Finder?
We have received many suggestions for inclusion on Data Finder and we encourage people to suggest data sources. We strive to include all data sources that meet our criteria (See What kinds of data does Data Finder include? and, when a data source is not included, we provide the link and our explanation for not including it. However, if a data source is not currently included on Data Finder or listed in the excluded sources list, it probably has not been suggested to us. In that case, we encourage you to use the Data Finder Forum and post a suggestion for our evaluation.


Where else can I find environmental data?
EPA recognizes that we are not the only organization that provides environmental data. While the mission of Data Finder is to be a single source to find data that EPA owns, we also strive to support people in their searches for other sources of environmental data. Many organizations provide environmental data, including federal, state, and local environmental agencies, environmental organizations, universities, and others. We are currently searching for sites that are similar to Data Finder across the federal government that we can link to from this site. In addition, you can search for specific datasets on Data.gov. We welcome your suggestions and encourage you to use the Data Finder Forum to post your ideas.


How often is Data Finder updated?
Data Finder is a dynamic website that will be updated approximately every month. Many updates to the site are driven by comments posted in the Data Finder Forum. Since 2009, we have revised the site several times and will continue to include new data sources as data becomes available. Please tell us how we can make Data Finder more useful to you.


What are EPA's plans for revising Data Finder?
In 2011 we are planning to release several new features. Data in the News is a section of Data Finder that will direct people to data sources about newsworthy topics. We are also providing links to data finders across the federal government that include downloadable, analytical environmental data. Since its inception, user feedback has been essential to improving the site, so we also are enhancing the Data Finder Forum where people can make suggestions, interact with EPA staff, and collaborate with each other on the use of environmental data. Through that forum, we encourage you to make suggestions for our future plans.


What is the difference between Data Finder and Data.gov?
Data Finder points to data sources that EPA manages. Data.gov is a federal site that helps people find, download, and use datasets that are generated and held across the Federal Government.


Why did EPA develop Data Finder?
Data Finder was developed in response to many comments we heard during the National Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information. Using inputs from the Dialogue, EPA developed an Information Access Strategy that summarizes EPA's plans to help its audiences more easily find, understand, and use information. People told us that they need environmental data, but they do not know where to find it. Data Finder seeks to meet this need and match people with the data they are looking for.


Will my comments be read?
Yes. Furthermore, comments we receive related to Data Finder will be posted on the Data Finder Forum so others can build on them. EPA will moderate discussions on the Forum and respond to common comments. EPA will post its updates and potential directions for Data Finder on the Forum.

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