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Data Is Plural

Prison and Jail Call Costs, Drones, Folklore, and Ski Trails

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 Dec. 21, 2022, has been republished with permission of the author.

Prison and jail* call costs. In its latest “State of Phone Justice” report, the Prison Policy Initiative has compiled data on the price of phone calls for incarcerated people and their families “for almost every jail and prison in the country.” One table lists each jail’s name, state, type, average daily population, telecom company, and the per-minute cost of in-state and out-of-state calls in 2021. As the report’s methodology explains, those figures are based on forms that telecom providers must submit to the Federal Communications Commission, with “additional corrections and updates based on our research.” Additional tables examine phone rates in state prisons over time (supplemented by previous collection efforts), state averages for local jails, and more. [h/t Mike Wessler]

*Note: In keeping with The Markup’s policy to not define individuals by their status or condition by default, we’ve edited the above paragraph from the original to replace the word “inmate.”

State-authorized sports betting. Legal Sports Report, a gambling industry publication, has been tracking the amount of money legally wagered on sports in each U.S. state, the amount kept by sportsbooks, and how much the government collected in taxes or revenue sharing. Monthly figures, drawn from linked official sources, are available as HTML tables for more than two dozen states. The site also tracks state legislation on sports betting. As seen in: “How an Arizona Lobbying Frenzy Helped Sports App Bookies Write Their Own Rules” (Bloomberg). [h/t Veronika Halamková]

Drone registrations. Through a FOIA request to the Federal Aviation Administration, Ben Welsh has obtained data on all “small unmanned aircraft” (popularly known as drones) actively registered with the agency through 2021—nearly 900,000 registrations in all. The spreadsheets, provided separately for commercial and recreational registrations, list each drone’s type and model, Remote ID capability, and registration date, plus the registrant’s city, state, and postcode. Related: Welsh, a journalist and newly licensed commercial drone pilot, has filed many data FOIA requests, including one that pried loose the FAA’s drone accident database (released, alas, as a PDF). [h/t MuckRock]

Folklore motifs. Decades ago, anthropologist Yuri Berezkin began systematically assembling what would later become the Electronic Analytical Catalog of Folklore and Mythological Motifs, which identifies thousands of recurring narrative elements and their presence within nearly 1,000 societies’ stories. In a paper published last year, Stelios Michalopoulos and Melanie Meng Xue describe the resource, analyze it, and share a database snapshot from October 2019.

Ski trails. Contributors to have posted 16,000-plus maps of ski trails across the world. You can programmatically access the (mostly image-based) maps as well as data on individual regions and ski areas. OpenSkiMap, meanwhile, combines that information with OpenStreetMap records to provide an interactive map (and structured data) of ski areas, lifts, and runs. [h/t Luz K. Molina]

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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