Data Is Plural

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

2023.01.25 edition

More recalls, jazz solos, overdose-related “Good Samaritan” laws, upcoming weather, and cats on the move.

More recalls. DIP 2023.01.11 featured vehicle recall data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Other US federal agencies publishing recall data include the Food and Drug Administration, whose dataset contains 81,000+ entries related to food, drugs, medical devices, and related products going back to 2012; the Consumer Product Safety Commission, whose database spans 8,500+ recalls since 1973; and the Coast Guard, whose listing of 1,600+ boat recalls is not downloadable but seems possible to scrape. [Update, 2023-02-01: Reader Michael Nolan took up the boat-recall challenge; here’s the dataset he extracted.] Also: Vehicle recall data from Canadian and UK regulators. Previously: International medical device recalls from ICIJ’s Implant Files (DIP 2019.04.17).

Jazz solos. The Jazzomat Research Project, hosted at the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, aims “to investigate the creative processes underlying jazz solo improvisations with the help of statistical and computational methods.” The project’s main database contains transcriptions and analyses of 450+ solos by John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and dozens of other artists. The downloadable version includes each “event” in each solo: its pitch, loudness, time of onset, duration, and more. As seen in: “What makes that song swing? At last, physicists unravel a jazz mystery” (NPR). [h/t Juan Pablo Marín Díaz]

Overdose-related “Good Samaritan” laws. Shane W. Reader et al. have compiled data on US state laws that “prevent or mitigate criminal consequences for activities pertaining to controlled substances for persons who call 911 to report a drug overdose.” Their dataset spans April 2007 to June 2022 and covers all 50 states, plus DC. The details include the types of people protected (e.g., the person overdosing, the caller, self-reporters), the kinds of protection conferred (e.g., with regard to arrests, charges, sentencing), the types of violations protected, and more.

Upcoming weather. Alexander Rey’s Pirate Weather aims to be a “drop in replacement” for DarkSky’s weather forecast API, which is shutting down. It pulls data from several NOAA forecast models in order to provide minute-level, hourly, and daily predictions of temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, and more. Note: The API is free to use but is limited to 20,000 calls per month. Related: Pirate Weather powers Merry Sky, a website built by Guillaume Carbonneau. [h/t Giuseppe Sollazzo]

Cats on the move. Between 2013 and 2017, Roland Kays et al. convinced hundreds of volunteers in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand to strap GPS sensors on their pet cats. The aforelinked datasets include each cat’s characteristics (such as age, sex, neuter status, hunting habits) and timestamped GPS pings. Related:, the homepage for the US branch of the project, features a cat-track browser. Previously: Cat meows (DIP 2021.06.30). [h/t Rika Fujiwara + Soph Warnes]