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The Datasets We’re Looking At This Week

You’re reading Data Is Plural, a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets. Below you’ll find the Aug. 24, 2022, edition, reprinted with permission at FiveThirtyEight.

2022.08.24 edition

Beneficial owners, administrative boundaries, legislative limits on teaching, census tract population changes and Bryan’s whistle-stop tour.

Beneficial owners. Open Ownership, a nonprofit aiming to improve “transparency over who owns and controls companies,” works directly with countries to implement reforms and has developed a standard format for publishing such information. It also runs the Open Ownership Register, a database identifying the beneficial owners of 8.4 million companies so far, drawn primarily from records published by Denmark, Slovakia, the U.K. and Ukraine. You can search, download and query those records, which include the companies’ names, addresses and other details, as well as the owners’ names, nationalities and interests in those companies. [h/t Datasketch]

Administrative boundaries. The geoBoundaries project, maintained by the William & Mary geoLab and volunteer contributors since 2017, calls itself “the world’s largest open, free and research-ready database of political administrative boundaries.” It provides an API and downloadable datasets of those boundaries at up to six levels per country, ranging from the entire nation to progressively smaller entities — outlining, for instance, approximately 650,000 villages in India and 2,900 Portuguese freguesias. Previously: The Database of Global Administrative Areas (DIP 2019.07.17) and national borders from 1886 to 2019 (DIP 2022.03.23).

Legislative limits on teaching. A PEN America report released last week examines recent developments in “educational gag orders,” which it defines as “state legislative efforts to restrict teaching about topics such as race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identities in K–12 and higher education.” The study follows an initial report published in November 2021 and is supplemented by a weekly updated spreadsheet that describes and tracks successful, failed and pending bills since January 2021. [h/t Gary Price]

Census tract population changes. Researchers at the University of Tennessee have built a dataset and interactive map comparing each U.S. Census tract’s population in 2020 versus 2010. Because the Census Bureau routinely adds and modifies tracts between decennial surveys, the team used geographic crosswalk files from the National Historic Geographic Information System to make the comparisons. [h/t Tim Kuhn]

Bryan’s whistle-stop tour. In 1896, Democratic Party presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan took four key campaign trips via rail, giving speeches in hundreds of cities along the way. The Railroads and the Making of Modern America project, based at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has compiled a table of those itineraries; it lists each event’s date and location and links to many of the speeches. As seen in:Do Local Campaign Visits by a Populist Politician Matter in Elections?” (Johannes Buggle and Stephanos Vlachos).

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Jeremy Singer-Vine is a data editor, reporter and computer programmer based in New York City.


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