Data Is Plural

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

2023.11.22 edition

Food access, strategic ecology, Australian law, electricity-balancing incentives, and lunar craters.

Food access. The USDA’s Food Access Research Atlas estimates how far people have to travel to buy healthy groceries. For any given Census tract, the project’s interactive map and downloadable data indicate the number of residents living within 0.5, 1, 10, and 20 miles of “the nearest supermarket, supercenter, or large grocery store.” They provide similar counts for each tract’s low-income residents, children, seniors, people without vehicle access, SNAP recipients, and by race/ethnicity. The most recent update uses 2019 data; prior versions are available for 2015 and 2010. Related: The distances are based partly on the USDA’s database of SNAP-authorized retailers. [h/t Sayli Benadikar]

Strategic ecology. The National Ecological Observatory Network operates 81 study sites across the US, strategically selected to represent a diversity of “vegetation, landforms, and ecosystem dynamics.” Examples include Caribou Creek in Alaska, Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland in Texas, and Guanica Forest in Puerto Rico. The network’s data portal provides downloads and an API for 160+ datasets, such as site elevations, downed wood log surveys, soil microbe compositions, and fish DNA sequences. Related: Ben G. Weinstein et al. recently used the network’s remote sensing data to generate a dataset estimating the location, size, likely species, and status of 100 million individual trees at 24 of the sites. [h/t Sharon Machlis]

Australian law. In a recent blog post, Umar Butler describes the process of building the Open Australian Legal Corpus, “from months-long negotiations with governments to reverse engineering ancient web technologies to hacking together a multitude of different solutions for extracting text from documents.” The corpus, “the largest open database of Australian law,” lists the text, type, jurisdiction, source, citation, and URL of 220,000+ documents. It includes “every in force statute and regulation in the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Norfolk Island, in addition to thousands of bills and hundreds of thousands of court and tribunal decisions.” [h/t Susie Cambria]

Electricity-balancing incentives. Jim Moran’s VPP Data tracks programs in the US that incentivize homeowners (and others) to participate in virtual power plants — collections of internet-connected batteries and other “distributed energy resources” that utilities can use to balance supply and demand. The project’s main spreadsheet tracks 120+ programs and their variations, spanning 20+ states and Puerto Rico. Each entry lists the program name, date announced, status, state, utility, sector, VPP platform, market aggregator, devices covered, monetary incentives, and more.

Moon dents. The Lunar Crater Database, compiled by Stuart Robbins, provides the location and dimensions of 1.3 million lunar impact craters. The catalog, “manually identified and measured” from lunar orbiter imagery, is “approximately complete for all craters larger than about 1–2 km in diameter.” Related: Craters on Venus, Ganymede, and Callisto, from the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Previously: A 1:5,000,000-scale map of Earth’s moon (DIP 2021.12.08). [h/t Allen Downey]