FCC uses geography to find patterns in large data sets

The FCC is not a member of the Federal Statistical Agencies. But it sure produces a lot of data, and it’s become a leader in the best practices of releasing and disseminating data related to its mission.

Michael Byrne, a geographer who works closely with the FCC chief data officer on deciding how the agency collects, uses and disseminates data, spoke with The Federal Drive with Tom Temin Friday.

“The most recent, large data set we’ve been collecting is in conjunction with the National Telecommunications Information Administration, and that’s the state broadband initiative data on broadband nationwide,” Byrne said.

As FCC’s geographic information officer, Byrne looks across all bureaus at data assets and aggregates them to particular geographies in order to find patterns in the data.


“What that really helps us do is investigate policy scenarios around where we are going, what we need to investigate in terms of our direction or regulation or what have you, and present that data in really digestible formats by anyone,” he said.

An example of this can be found on the FCC website under maps.

“The maps on FCC.gov/maps are very, very fast maps,” Byrne said. “There’s no delay in how they’re displayed. Users can pan and zoom around, and oftentimes zoom very far in to community level and see highly detailed information.”