This Week in Data: Language Diversity, Arsonists, Monasteries, and more


This week, we're taking a look at data from a number of different sources, from the U.S. government to the Australian government to an ethnolinguistic research project.

Close quarters. A lot of surveys conducted by the Census Bureau are based on household, but there are a lot of Americans who don't live in traditional household arrangements. They're still counted, though—as living in "group quarters," which refers to a wide variety of housing situations. There are institutional quarters, like prisons, jails, nursing facilities, and mental hospitals. Then there are non institutional quarters: university dormitories, military barracks, homeless shelters, rehab clinics, and monasteries. Where are America's monks? *Stay tuned for an upcoming post that will offer a deeper dive into the history of U.S. Census data!

Playing with fire. Enigma's explored fire-related data before, but here's another look at the topic. The National Fire Incident Reporting System records about 75 percent of reported fires, with detailed information about what exactly caused the fire in question. This particular table looks at incidents involving arson in 2013. There's also information about the motivation of each arsonist: most are "unknown," "personal," or "fireplay/curiosity," but there's also "intimidation," "insurance fraud," "attention/sympathy," and some truly terrifying things like "homicide concealment."

Incident numbers can be linked up to the NFIRS 2013 Incident Locations table, if you'd like to map out where each arson took place. From a glance, it looks like Nevada might have a disproportionately high number of arsons.

Side effects. Co-managed by the CDC and the FDA, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System collects information about negative side effects of vaccines that have been approved and released on the market. Anyone can report an adverse event, but VAERS has been criticized for unverified reports—particularly those submitted by personal-injury lawyers who then try to use those same reports to argue that vaccines cause autism. Still, with over 10,000 reports each year, VAERS data (responsibly analyzed) is a valuable resource for many medical researchers. Here are the adverse events received so far this year, with reports from all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Each report lists the patient's age, sex, and some medical information, as well as a detailed description of the symptom experienced. You can follow any report's VAERS ID to the vaccines table for more on the vaccine's name, dose, and manufacturer.

Speaking your language. From Ethnologue, an encyclopedia of the world's living languages, a table of countries by linguistic diversity. At the bottom of the list (least diverse) are North Korea, Haiti, and Cuba. The United States is more diverse than both the U.K. and France, but less diverse than Germany. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Melanesia top the list, alongside India. Most diverse of all: Papua New Guinea, with over 800 living languages.

Government Spending: Antipodean Edition. It's always interesting to see where tax dollars are going. Here are a few years' worth of the Australian government's contract spending, with information on the agency involved, the value of the contract, a description, and a link to a corresponding AusTender entry. You can now see the Department of Defense's various contracts with Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Thales Group, as well as that time in 2011 when the National Archives of Australia bought some desktop computers from Hewlett Packard.