Data Is Plural

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

2020.10.21 edition

Voting equipment, jail deaths, college athletics, bug bounties, and shrinking salmon.

Voting equipment. Verified Voting is “a non-partisan organization focused exclusively on the critical role technology plays in election administration," and its Verifier project provides “the only comprehensive data set of voting equipment down to the precinct level of the United States, going back to 2006.” For each election year and jurisdiction, the database indicates the type of technology in use (ranging from hand-counted paper ballots to touchscreen systems), equipment brands and models, and other details, such as whether there is a “voter-verified paper audit trail.” [h/t Jonathan Cohen]

Jail deaths. Last week, Reuters published an investigation into deaths in US jails. Because the federal government doesn’t publish jail-by-jail mortality data, reporters “filed more than 1,500 records requests to obtain information about deaths in 523 U.S. jails – every jail with an average population of 750 or more inmates, and the 10 largest jails or jail systems in nearly every state.” The resulting dataset contains details about more than 7,500 inmate deaths between 2008 and 2019, including the cause of death, custody status, and demographic information. Among the findings: “At least two-thirds of the dead inmates identified by Reuters, 4,998 people, were never convicted of the charges on which they were being held.” [h/t Grant Smith]

College athletics. The Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act requires thousands of US colleges to provide annual data on athletic particpation, staffing, and finances by team gender and sport. School- and team-level datasets are available through the Department of Education for the academic years ending 2003–19. Related: USAFacts recently used the data to examine college football finances. [h/t Sasha Anderson]

Bug bounties. Technology companies often offer “bug bounties” — rewards to people who tell them about vulnerabilities in their websites and apps, often coordinated through online platforms. For the past few years, security engineer Arkadiy Tetelman has been scraping and publishing data about the bug bounty “targets” listed on several platforms, including the eligible domains, maximum payouts, and more.

Shrinking salmon. Scientists recently documented “widespread declines in Pacific salmon size based on 60 years of measurements from 12.5 million fish across Alaska,” collected by state officials from more than 1,000 sampling locations. The underlying dataset lists each salmon’s age, sex, length, and other details where available. [h/t Holly Kindsvater]