Data Is Plural

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

2024.01.17 edition

RSV, subnational economic output, environmental treaties, Chicago’s “menu money,” and Star Trek chairs.

RSV. The US CDC’s Respiratory Syncytial Virus Hospitalization Surveillance Network collects data on hospital admissions due to lab-confirmed RSV at acute-care facilities in 58 counties, across 12 states. The CDC uses the data to estimate weekly hospitalization rates — overall as well as by age group, race/ethnicity, and sex. Those rates, which go back to 2016–17 for adults and 2018–19 for minors, are available via an interactive dashboard and downloadable dataset. Related: The network is part of a broader system that also monitors influenza and COVID-19 hospitalizations. Also: The European Respiratory Virus Surveillance Summary, launched in October by the European CDC and World Health Organization, features weekly data tables and epidemiological summaries.

Subnational economic output. Leonie Wenz et al.’s Database of Sub-national Economic Output (DOSE) provides “harmonised data on reported economic output from 1,661 sub-national regions across 83 countries from 1960 to 2020.” Those regions include, for instance, Turkey’s 81 provinces, Japan’s 47 prefectures, and Kenya’s 47 counties. For each year, the dataset indicates the monetary value of the region’s total economic output, and often also subtotals for the agricultural, manufacturing, and services sectors. While previous projects have used interpolation to estimate similar figures, DOSE avoids that approach, instead assembling its data only from “statistical agencies, yearbooks and academic literature.”

Environmental treaties. Ronald B. Mitchell’s International Environmental Agreements Database Project tracks 4,000+ such arrangements, defined as “an intergovernmental document intended as legally binding with a primary stated purpose of preventing or managing human impacts on natural resources.” Examples include the Indus Water Treaty (1960) and Convention on Nuclear Safety (1994). The project’s datasets characterize each agreement (e.g., its name, signature date, type, subject) and 100,000+ “membership actions” by participating countries. The project also tracks various “non-agreements,” such as memoranda of understanding. [h/t Jean-Frédéric Morin et al.]

Chicago’s “menu money.” Chicago’s 50 wards can each receive up to $1.5 million annually to spend on infrastructure projects such as street lighting, sidewalk repair, art murals, and park improvements. Each ward’s city council representative typically decides how to spend this so-called “menu money,” although some let residents allocate a portion. The city publishes menu money spending reports, but only as PDFs. So data researcher Jake J. Smith has programmatically converted twelve years of those PDFs (2012–2023) into a spreadsheet containing 28,000 line items. Each entry indicates the year, ward, line item’s cost, category, program, and description (often the location of the project).

Star Trek chairs. Ex Astris Scientia, run by Bernd Schneider since 1998, contains much of what you might expect from a Star Trek fan site, such as episode summaries, starship catalogs, and an extensive encyclopedia. But it also publishes some more esoteric inventories, such as HTML tables of commercially available chairs and lamps that have appeared on screen. [h/t Duncan Geere]