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Data Is Plural

Religion and Law, Cities’ COVID-19 Responses, Data Governance … and More

This week's roundup of notable data

Illustration of an open envelope, with arrows coming out from within. The arrows are pointing to various spreadsheets. Behind the spreadsheets are data visualizations, clouds and strings of numbers.
Gabriel Hongsdusit

Data Is Plural is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets. This edition, dated May 18, 2022, has been republished with permission of the author.

Religion and government. To compile the Government Religious Preference dataset, researchers scrutinized primary documents and secondary sources “for information on the existence, origination, change, or discontinuation of a law or policy directed toward” any of 30 religious denominations in 200-plus countries. Then they assessed the degree to which those policies reflected institutional favor or disfavor across 28 variables, themselves grouped into “five broad components of state-religion”: official status, financial support, regulatory burdens, religious education, and free exercise. The project provides individual and composite scores for each country-year-denomination, from as early as 1800 through 2015. Related: Country-level religious demographics, from the same principal investigators. [h/t Ariel Zellman and Davis Brown]

Municipal pandemic responses. The National League of CitiesLocal Action Tracker describes itself as “the most complete collection of municipal responses to COVID-19.” It contains information about 4,800-plus policies undertaken or planned in roughly 800 U.S. cities between February 2020 and February 2022, listing each response’s date, policy area (e.g., housing, utilities, vaccinations), type of action (e.g., ordinance, emergency declaration), a brief description, and more. [h/t Joshua Pine]

Open data governance. To develop the Global Data Barometer, a network of local experts and regional organizations evaluated “the state of data for public good” in 109 countries between May 2019 and May 2021. The project’s initial results, released last week as a report and downloadable dataset, reflect 60,000-plus of their observations, which focused on data governance and capabilities, plus the availability and use of data on specific topics, such as public finance, climate action, and company ownership. [h/t cat cortes]

Europe prison populations. The Council of Europe publishes annual statistical reports on prison populations and facilities, based on surveys sent to its member states. The council publishes most of the data only in the report PDFs but does provide HTML tables of country-level inmate counts and facility capacity from 2018 to 2022. As seen in A Civio.es-led analysis of pretrial detention rates, for which reporters extracted (and have shared) the numbers of untried and unsentenced prisoners in early 2021. [h/t Olaya Argüeso Pérez]

Banknote people. The visual essay “Who’s in Your Wallet?” examines the famous faces that appear on 38 countries’ paper money. To do that, Alejandra Arevalo and Eric Hausken built a dataset describing 279 person-banknote combinations. It lists the banknote’s currency and value, plus the person’s name, gender, profession, year first on the bill, year deceased, and more. Related: Wikipedia’s lists of people on banknotes and on coins.


Notice: Unlike most of our content, this edition of Data Is Plural by Jeremy Singer-Vine is not available for republication under a Creative Commons license.

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