Like most people (I assume), I was doing a little GIS project SuperBowl morning. Needing some data, the first place I thought of going what the new [Data.gov] site to download some data. After doing a quick and simple search, I got the dataset I wanted ready to download. But as with every government data repository before it, it is broken. Posted datasets download links are many times 404:
It just isn’t the download, but the metadata as well. I know, some datasets still work and who knows, maybe this one will again one day. But for [Data.gov] to be valuable it needs to ping the data sources to let the users know that they are down (and for web services they are down). Also it wouldn’t hurt to let the owner of the data know that their datasets are no longer linked correctly in the Data.gov website. Otherwise we’ll just get link rot and that can kill a project.
If projects are going to be built on data discovered with Data.gov, much more has to be done to ensure that this data is available consistently, not when people get around to updating broken links. If things don’t change it is another waste of taxpayer money and we’d just have been better off sticking with the previous government data boondoggle.