Data Is Plural

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

2023.05.17 edition

Controlled substances lost and stolen, international case law, ICE database misconduct, real effective exchange rates, and collective nouns.

Controlled substances lost and stolen. In response to a Data Liberation Project Freedom of Information Act request, the US Drug Enforcement Administration last week sent me data counting the thefts and other losses of controlled substances and “listed chemicals” that regulated entities have reported to the agency. The DEA provided the records as two spreadsheet files, which I’ve also converted into tidy CSVs. They indicate the number of incidents by state, type of business (pharmacy, importer, distributor, etc.), and type of loss (burglary, hijacking, natural disaster, etc.), plus the total quantities stolen/lost. Read more: Yesterday’s Data Liberation Project newsletter, featuring some numbers that caught my eye.

International case law. “The quantitative analysis of international legal data is still in its infancy, a situation which is exacerbated by the lack of high-quality open access data sets,” writes Seán Fobbe in a 2022 paper in Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. To this end, Fobbe’s “present[s] the first two of a new series” of such resources, “covering one hundred years of case law of the primary judicial organs of the United Nations and the League of Nations.” The datasets — for the Permanent Court of International Justice (covering 1922–1940) and for the International Court of Justice (1947–present) — include case metadata, linguistic metrics, and the full text (in English and French) of the courts’ opinions, orders, and other key documents.

ICE database misconduct. “Since 2016, hundreds of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees and contractors have faced internal investigations into abuse of confidential law enforcement databases and agency computers,” Dhruv Mehrotra reports in Wired, based on disciplinary database records Mehrotra obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. ICE provided 414 rows of records. Each represents an alleged misconduct incident and provides a summary, date of occurrence, date reported, location, several categorizations, case resolution, and more. Wired has also added a column identifying the database in question, based on the summary. [h/t Andrew Couts + Sebastian Lammers]

Weighted, inflation-adjusted exchange rates. A country’s real effective exchange rate is its average exchange rate with its trading partners, weighted by trade volume and adjusted for inflation. Economist Zsolt Darvas maintains a dataset that estimates these rates for 178 countries and the eurozone, by month and year. The project, which updates a dataset and methodology Darvas first published in 2012, uses data from international organizations, national statistics offices, and central banks.

Collective nouns. Daniel E. Meyers has consulted dozens of sources to compile The Collective Noun Catalog, which presents an inundation of 7,300+ such constructs, such as a pulse of cardiologists and a warren of wombats. The project’s spreadsheet lists each collective noun’s subject, category, notes, and primary sources — some of which date to the 1400s.