23 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask (and the 11 Datasets You Need to Answer Them)


Public data enables us to learn more about the world we live in. By public, we simply mean created by (and about) the public. Much like the more broadly used term “open data” suggests, public data embodies the notion that data should be freely used, without restrictions to access. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.

Locating the data you need, much less actually getting your hands on it, can prove to be quite a challenge. That’s where Enigma Public comes in. We’ve spent the last couple of years curating tens of thousands of public datasets — from the new and noteworthy to the widely utilitarian and wildly eccentric — to make data usable and easily accessible to all.

However, data is only as valuable (or interesting) to you as the questions you are able to ask of it — and that can be half the battle. So, in the spirit of curiosity, we’ve compiled a list of interesting, free* datasets and some questions from the data that we’ve pondered to get you started.

1. Orbiting Satellites Database from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Which nations are launching the greatest number of satellites?

How have the number of satellite launches changed over time?

Heavysats 01 01 Resized

2. U.S. Medical Adverse Events from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Can we predict a combination of medical drugs associated with greater side effects?

What is the age and sex of someone most likely to experience an adverse event?

3. Near Mid Air Flight Collisions from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

How many near flight collisions occurred before the millennium?

What proportion of near mid air flight collisions were defined as ‘critical’? Has that proportion changed over time?

Potential Collisiontransparent

4. U.S. Liquor Licenses from all state governments

Based on the concentration of liquor licenses, where is someone most able to buy a beer in the U.S.?

Are newly licensed establishments predictive of complaints to a city?

5. U.S. Government Spending from the U.S. Treasury

How does the level of government spending change across different U.S. presidential administrations?

What kind of organizations does the government invest in?

6. U.S. Work Layoffs from 13 state governments

How do layoffs in California compare to layoffs in Texas?

What is the average number of employees terminated from mass layoffs across 13 U.S. state governments?

7. New York City Restaurant Inspections from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Which zip code of New York City has the lowest average restaurant rating? Can you rank boroughs by restaurant ratings?

Can you predict a restaurant rating based on cuisine?

8. Work Health and Safety Violations from the U.S. Department of Labor

How have types of workplace injuries changed since the 1970s?

What are some industries that have a higher number of workplace injuries than expected?

9. MoMA Art Collection from the MoMA

Can you predict the likelihood that an artwork is produced by a female artist at the Museum of Modern Art?

Museum Gendertransparent

10. New York City 311 calls from the NYC local government

What are people complaining about most in New York City?

Which borough calls 311 the most? The least?

What is the most common complaint by borough?

11. U.S. Farm Subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Which crops are most subsidized by the U.S. government?

Has that changed over time?

Don’t forget to subscribe to Between Two Rows, our monthly newsletter that covers everything from new and attention-grabbing datasets to top notch data science projects and upcoming events.

*All data in Enigma Public is free for non-commercial use, published under CC BY NC 4.0. If you would like to use our data for a commercial purpose, please do be in touch. We’d love to chat about how we can help you work public data into your workflows.