Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2015.12.09 edition

Global open data rankings, more data on mass shootings, firearm background checks, food poisoning, and licensed barbers.

The 2015 Global Open Data Index, released last night. Open Knowledge International has just published its latest survey of openly available government data. This year’s audit includes 112 countries and territories, up from 97 last year. The survey scores each based on the availability of datasets in 13 key categories (e.g., “election results,” “government spending,” and “pollutant emissions”) and links out to the available datasets. In this year’s survey, Taiwan ranks first, the U.K. second, and Denmark third. The U.S. ranks eighth.

More data (and discussion) on mass shootings. Last week, Data Is Plural highlighted, a source for data on shootings that wounded at least four people. Other resources include the Gun Violence Archive and Mother Jones’ detailed database of mass shootings since 1982. The Mother Jones database takes narrower approach, focusing on shootings that killed at least four people in a public setting. In a New York Times op-ed, published shortly after last week’s San Bernardino shooting, the editor behind that database argues that broader methodologies don’t distinguish between a “a 1 a.m. gang fight” and “the madness that just played out in Southern California.” A Washington Post article weighs the pros and cons of broader and narrower approaches. [h/t Robin Shields + Mark Follman + Christopher Ingraham]

Firearm background checks. Gun dealers use the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System to determine whether someone is allowed to buy a firearm. There isn’t a one-to-one correlation between these background checks and gun sales, but they’re said to be the best available proxy. The FBI publishes a PDF tallying the monthly number of firearm checks for each state and type. At BuzzFeed News, we’ve parsed that PDF into a CSV/spreadsheet for easier use.

Good FOOD, bad food. The CDC’s Foodborne Outbreak Online Database (FOOD) contains 18,000+ outbreaks, which resulted in 358,000+ illnesses and 13,000+ hospitalizations, from 1998 through last year. In 2008, a multi-state Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak hospitalized 308 people — the highest count in the database.

Know thy barber. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation maintains a webpage of well-formatted data on state-licensed workers, including tow truck operators, boxing judges, journeyman electricians, elevator inspectors, manicurists, and, yes, barbers. [h/t Ryan Murphy]