Data Is Plural

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

2020.04.15 edition

COVID-19 testing around the world, aggregated smartphone movements, privacy policies, NYC trash, and Animal Crossing.

COVID-19 testing around the world. Nearly every country publishes the number of residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. Far fewer post data on the total number of people tested (or tests performed). But as more countries start doing that, the team at Our World In Data has begun compiling a regularly-updated dataset on COVID-19 testing, along with key context, a detailed methodology, and interactive charts.

Aggregated smartphone movements. A team of academics has begun publishing a series of “exposure indices” based on smartphone “pings” collected by a location-analytics company. One set of indices describes the proportion of smartphones that, on a given day in a given US state or county, were observed at least once in another given state or county during the previous 14 days. Another tries to quantify how often smartphones are observed in the same “commercial venues” as other devices. “We are making these indices publicly available to all researchers in the context of the spread of COVID-19,” the researchers write.

Privacy policies. Researchers at Imperial College London and Oxford have compiled a dataset of more than 4,000 privacy policies published on major US companies’ websites. For each policy, the dataset includes its full text, counts the number of words and paragraphs in it, calculates a readability metric, and reports the number of third-party tracking cookies loaded through the policy’s webpage. [h/t Antione Uettwiller]

Thirty years of NYC trash and recycling. New York City’s Department of Sanitation publishes a dataset of the monthly tonnage it collects from city residences, going back to 1990. For each community district and month, the dataset tallies the weight of household trash, recyclables, “organics,” and more — including, for each January, the tonnage of Christmas trees collected. Related: Reporters at The City recently analyzed the dataset, and found potential evidence of Manhattanites fleeing the city in March. They also interviewed the Department of Sanitation’s anthropologist-in-residence.

Animal Crossing. VillagerDB is an online and downloadable database of thousands of the characters, accessories, tools, and other items in Animal Crossing: New Horizons — the Sims-like game that’s breaking sales records and saving my colleague’s marriage. [h/t Justin]