Data Is Plural

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

2021.05.26 edition

Rainfall records, job flows, political institutions, cell stations, and the coins in 22,500 French wallets.

Rainfall records, rescued. For centuries, a network of volunteers recorded monthly measurements from thousands of rain gauges across the UK and Ireland. Those observations were trapped on paper forms known “10-year sheets” until very recently, when the UK’s Meteorological Office scanned them. But the records still weren’t in an analyzable form, so a team of climate scientists organized the Rainfall Rescue project, sending a call for help just as Britain entered its first COVID-19 lockdown. Within months, more than 16,000 volunteers had transcribed all 65,000+ pages of scans, entering millions of rain measurements from 1677–1960. Read more: A Twitter thread from organizer Ed Hawkins. [h/t Charlotte Slaymark]

Job flows. The US Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics initiative partners with state governments to examine employment and economic mobility at “detailed levels of geography and industry and for different demographic groups.” Its downloadable and interactive datasets include quarterly job-flow metrics, which track workers’ movement between sectors, states, and metro areas; an experimental study of Army veterans’ employment outcomes; and more. [h/t Jared Shepard]

Political institutions. The Inter-American Development Bank’s Database of Political Institutions 2020 provides structured information on 180+ countries’ national governments and elections going back to 1975. The topics include electoral rules, term limits, party and leader tenure, party fragmentation, the role of the military in government, competitiveness, and more. [h/t Cesi Cruz + Brian C. Keegan]

Cell stations. OpenCelliD bills itself as “the world’s largest open database of cell towers,” drawing from a combination of crowdsourcing, information provided by telecom firms, and a collaboration with the Mozilla Location Service. Its public datasets (registration required) indicate the latitude, longitude, radio type, and identifiers of more than 40 million GSM, CDMA, UMTS, and LTE “logical cells.” Related: An interactive map of the data (and methodology) by software developer Alper Cinar. [h/t u/cavedave]

The coins in 22,500 French wallets. Between 2002 and 2011, the Euro Spatial Diffusion Observatory convinced 22,500 people in France to open their wallets and count the 300,000+ Euro coins in them. The researchers also conducted smaller surveys in Germany and Belgium. The project’s public datasets detail the coins’ values and countries of origin, plus socioeconomic details about their owners.