Data Is Plural

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

2021.03.10 edition

Coronavirus variants, 200+ years of US property density, Black media, parliamentary election designs, and Amsterdam’s bats.

Coronavirus variants.’s mutation situation reports track the prevalence of new strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that sparked the COVID-19 pandemic. For each “lineage,” the reports provide data on the geography, timing, and number of sequenced viral samples that bear the strain’s signature. The project, led by biologists at Scripps Research, is one of many that draw from the genomic data collected by GISAID (DIP 2020.03.11), which also publishes its own variants dashboard. Related: The US CDC is tracking the number of [variant cases reported in each state and territory](Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). But they’re only providing cumulative counts, so USA Today has begun scraping (and backfilling) the data to maintain a historical record. [h/t Betsy Ladyzhets]

200+ years of US property density. Johannes Uhl et al.’s Historical Settlement Data Compilation for the United States contains estimates, for every half decade from 1810 to 2015, of the number of building units and structures in every 250-meter-by-250-meter chunk of the (present-day) contiguous US. The researchers constructed their calculations from the Zillow Transaction and Assessment Dataset, which contains more than 400 million property records and requires researchers to apply for access. Previously: The Global Human Settlement Layer (DIP 2016.11.02). [h/t Rebecca Hersher]

Black media. The Black Media Initiative, based at the CUNY’s graduate journalism school, has launched an interactive map and database of 300+ newspapers, radio stations, and other “media outlets across the U.S. that primarily serve Black communities across the diaspora.” The information includes locations, formats, publication frequencies, target audiences, ownership categories, and more. [h/t Mike Reilley]

Parliamentary election designs. The Electoral System Design Database describes the way in which lower-house parliamentarians are chosen, covering 1,300+ such elections in 217 countries and territories since 1991. It specifies the type of system (e.g., “first-past-the-post,” “party block vote,” et cetera), the number of tiers of representation, the number of legislators directly elected, and the number of voting members. [h/t Andrew Stewart]

Amsterdam’s bats. Using a combination of human observation and automated detection, the city of Amsterdam has been mapping its bat population. Its data features more than 6,000 observations, the observation routes, bat-detection device placement and findings, and the city’s known bat abodes. [h/t Martina Zamboni]