Data Is Plural

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

2016.09.07 edition

Healthcare spending, radio licenses, light pollution,patent locations, and the federal fleet.

Healthcare spending. Since 1996, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey has collected data on “the specific health services that Americans use,” and the “health insurance held by and available to U.S. workers.” In a typical year, the survey collects data from more than 30,000 people from more than 10,000 families. In addition to the raw data files, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which runs the survey, also provides summary data tables. They show that, for example, in 2013 an estimated 61% of Americans faced expenses for prescription drugs, which cost the median patient about $278 before insurance. [h/t Ricardo Pietrobon]

Radio rights. The Federal Communications Commission decides who can use the nation’s airwaves and how. To date, they’ve issued millions of licenses, including nearly 200,000 last year for broadcast, personal use, law enforcement, and more. Almost exactly six years ago, the FCC launched a consolidated portal that pulls data from its various licensing systems into a single dataset. You can download all 17 million licenses in bulk, search for specific licenses online, or query the dataset’s API. [h/t Marc DaCosta]

Night lights. Earlier this summer, a group researchers published a “new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness,” also known as light pollution. You can download a KMZ version of their atlas and view it in Google Earth. The researchers haven’t made their most detailed, “floating point” dataset available for public download; instead, they ask that you first submit a data-request form. [h/t Matthew Petroff]

Innovation nation. Last week, a team of researchers published HistPat, a database containing county-of-residence data for 2.8 million U.S. patents granted between 1836 and 1975. The database covers approximately 83% of all patents granted to U.S. residents during that time, according to the authors. The most frequent home counties for innovation were New York County (422,234 patents); Cook County, Ill. (215,021), and Los Angeles County (90,171). Related: The National Bureau of Economic Research’s dataset of patent citations, 1975-1999. And: “Cancer moonshot” patents, 1976–2016. [h/t Drew Ivan]

The federal fleet. The U.S. General Services Administration publishes an annual dataset about vehicles owned and leased by the federal government. The spreadsheets — which contain details on total inventories, cost, usage, and fuel consumption — go back to fiscal year 2011. In FY 2015, federal vehicles drove 4.8 billion miles, down about 9% from FY 2011. [h/t John Templon]