Data Is Plural

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

2018.10.31 edition

Bridges, foreign influence campaigns on Twitter, electric utilities, coal cleanup funds, and probably-fake political committees.

Bridges. The Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory contains detailed data on more than 600,000 “highway bridges” in the United States. The inventory goes back to 1992 and contains scores of fields, including the bridge’s age, condition, design, and materials. Now you know: Texas has the most highway bridges in the inventory, with more than 53,800. Bonus: You can also search the bridges via the unofficial Related: The code the Baltimore Sun used to answer the question, “How safe are Maryland’s bridges?” [h/t Christine Zhang]

Foreign influence campaigns on Twitter. Earlier this month, Twitter released data on the public activity of “3,841 accounts affiliated with the [Internet Research Agency], originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran.” Together, the datasets “include more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts.” Related: My colleague Peter Aldhous used this data — combined with data on 3 million “Russian troll tweets” released this summer by Clemson University researchers and FiveThirtyEight — to examine the Internet Research Agency’s traction before and after the 2016 election. Bonus: Peter’s code.

Electric utilities. The U.S. Energy Information Administration uses Form EIA-861 to collect annual data from thousands of electric utilities about their sales, revenue, peak loads, customer counts, energy efficiency savings, and more. More than 3,400 utilities submitted the form (or its shorter cousin, EIA-861S) for 2017, and the data go back to 1990. [h/t Jordan Wirfs-Brock]

Coal cleanup funds. What happens when coal mines shut down? Money for their cleanup is supposed to be ensured by a system of bonds. But when Climate Home News’ Mark Olalde investigated these remediation funds, he found “a system incapable of dealing with large-scale bankruptcies, amid a declining industry, which severely threatens the environment and future of coal-mining communities across the country.” You can download the data behind Olalde’s findings — including bond databases covering the “23 states that produce 99% of US coal,” obtained via public records requests. [h/t Megan Darby]

Probably-fake political committees. When the Federal Election Commission receives a registration form that contains “questionable information” from a candidate or committee, the agency asks for additional information. If the FEC doesn’t get a proper response, it adds the registration to its dataset of “unverified filers”. Among the 500+ registrations currently on the list: “”, “Department of Treasury,” “Wookie PAC,” and “Al Pacino.” [h/t Chris Zubak-Skees]