The Next Big Thing You Missed: Big-Data Men Rewrite Government’s Tired Economic Models, by Marcus Wohlsen, Wired: The Consumer Price Index is one of the country’s most closely watched economic statistics... The trouble is that it’s compiled by the U.S. government, which is still stuck in the technological dark ages. This month, the index didn’t even arrive on time, thanks to the government shutdown.
David Soloff, co-founder of a San Francisco startup called Premise, believes the country needs something better. He believes we shouldn’t have to rely on the creaky wheels of a government bureaucracy for our vital economic data.
“It’s a half-a-billion dollars of budget allocated toward this in the U.S., and they’re closed,” Soloff said when I met him earlier this month during the depths of the shutdown, before questioning the effectiveness of the system even when it’s up and running. “The U.S…has got a pretty highly evolved stats-gathering infrastructure [compared to other countries], but it’s still kind of post-World War II old-school.”
In Soloff’s view, the government’s highly centralized approach to analyzing the health of the economy isn’t just technologically antiquated. It’s doesn’t take into account how much the rest of the world has been changed by technology. At Premise, the big idea is to measure economic trends around the world on a real-time, granular level, combining the best of machine learning with a small army of on-the-ground human data collectors that can gather new information about our economy as quickly as possible. ...
This is a company of the Big Data Age. ... While its current product offerings are focused on inflation and food security data, Soloff could see the platform expand to answer questions that government bureaucracies don’t touch...
But the article doesn't address the key question of costs of the service and who will have access to these data (e.g. FRED is free to all).