Viz Crime with Python and Javascript, Go To Cool Parties With Free Food

Posted by on Jan 5, 2015 in Projects | 0 comments

We’re looking for some programers to visualize crime data and present it at our booth at the San Diego Magazine Big Ideas Party on Jan 21. The Data Library was one of the 25 Big Ideas covered in their January issue, so they’d like us to have a presentation at the party.

I’d like to have an interactive display, probably using D3, that shows a crime hot spot map for the region, as well as a collection of time-based Rhythm maps for selected areas. A visitor to the booth could select a neighborhood or city, see the hot spots in that area, and see how the crime incidents change in that area over time.

So, we’ll need a Python programmer for the server side ( Pandas for analysis, Flask or similar for the server ) and Javascript person for the front end. Someone with solid visual design skills would be a plus.

You’ll get a ticket to the party on the 21st, to share in the glory, get free food, and do some high-quality hobnobbing.

If you are interested, send me an email, with a link to your Github/Bitbucket/etc account or portfolio, to We can use any number of volunteers, but I only have three free tickets.

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Data Analysis For Your Mission

Posted by on Dec 8, 2014 in News | 0 comments

Sponsor a Project in Our Student Data Analysis Contest

Give your nonprofit, agency or news organization valuable data-driven insights by sponsoring a project at our student data analysis contest. 

The San Diego Regional Data Library, the SDSU Society for Statisticians and Actuaries and Teradata are organizing a data analysis contest to aid nonprofits, journalists and government agencies in making better use of data, develop a broader regional capacity for data analysis, and introduce students interested in data analysis to future employers.

Contestant teams will have one week in early March 2015 to answer a set of data-driven questions and visualize the results for one of four projects. Each project will be provided by a nonprofit, government agency or news organization.

The contest will be announced in early January, primarily to college students. For a month before the contest begins, the San Diego Regional Data Library will run a special session of its Practical Data Program to train contestants on using data, Python, R, and IPython to analyze data.

If you are interested in being involved in the contest, as a project sponsor, mentor or contestant, visit the overview page or contact Eric Busboom at, or (619) 363-2607.

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When Will be Useful?

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in News | 2 comments is the top level data search system for the US, with references to over 130,000 datasets from federal and state agencies. And yet, I’ve never successfully used it for finding data. Here is an example search for “Diabetes Rates”:

Search for “Diabetes Rates” on


So, we look for diabetes, and get births, 22 year old mortality data from the US Geological Survey, and quality of service data as the first three hits. The first link at least points to the right agency, but you still have to click three times to get there.

Here is the same search on Google:


Search for Diabetes Rates on Google.

Search for Diabetes Rates on Google.


Not only do I get links to real primary organizations, the fourth hit is the original source of the data, and Google helpfully gives us quick stats before the hits. Even better,  if you search for “diabetes rates data” you are one click away from the primary data source for US diabetes rates.

The really poor quality of search results on has been a problem for its entire existence; I’ve never done a data search on that returned what I wanted. I’ve always had better results with Google or browsing the website of the agency that produces the data. has been around for about 5 years, and despite human curation is still isn’t as useful as Google’s automatic index.  At some point, I’d like to stop being excited by its possibilities, and start being excited by it utility.



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