Data Is Plural

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

2016.04.27 edition

FOIA, particle physics, flight delays, Congressional junkets, and an API far, far away.

FOIA, four ways. On Saturday, BuzzFeed hosted a FOIA data hackathon. Participants used datasets — from MuckRock, FOIA Machine, FOIA Mapper, and — to analyze federal, state, and local responsiveness to public records requests. The first three datasets contain details about individual FOIA requests and responses; provides aggregate internal data from federal agencies.

Particle physics. Last week, the researchers at CERN’s Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment released more than 300 terabytes of data. The datasets include raw particle-detection data from the Large Hadron Collider, as well as pre-processed datasets the researchers say “can be readily analysed by university or high-school students.” [h/t Dad]

Flight delays. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics requires the nation’s largest airlines to report scheduled and actual timing data for every domestic flight. The corresponding database includes information about delays, cancellations, and diversions, among other fields — and goes back to 1987. In January 2016, departing flights taxied for an average of 16 minutes, a minimum of 1 minute, and a maximum of 2 hours, 38 minutes. Related:Which Flight Will Get You There Fastest?” [h/t Tom Augspurger]

Congressional junkets. The U.S. House of Representatives requires all staff to reveal all “gift travel” — i.e., “free” trips that the government didn’t pay for. The Office of the Clerk compiles those filings into a database containing each trip’s dates and sponsors. (The Consumer Electronics Show paid for 49 staffers and one congressman to visit the Las Vegas convention in January.) The Senate publishes similar data, except it doesn’t include the sponsor name … which kind of undermines the entire point. [h/t John Stanton]

A long time ago, in an API far, far away. The Star Wars API provides programmatic access to data about every character, species, spaceship, planet, and film in George Lucas’ cinematic universe. You can also download JSON files containing all the data. [h/t Robin Sloan]