Anyone who has spent even a hint of time scouring the internet for numerical data sets will acknowledge the challenges and costs (in terms of time) required to search for, download, verify, and clean data before being able to use it.
A new site called Quandl has emerged as a solution to this and it will have any data junkie foaming at the mouth. While Quandl seems to still be in beta, it boasts free access to millions of economic, social and financial data sets from a wide range of sources.
One very handy feature of creating an account to use Quandl is the ability to create your own ‘supersets’. A superset is essentially any data set you combine from multiple data sets available on Quandl. For example, I created a page dedicated to monitoring population growth rates for major regions of the world. To do this, I simply added each individual county’s population growth rate data set to a new ‘superset’ that I created for each region I am interested in.
In addition to being incredibly easy to find data sets for a variety of interests such as economy, demography, health, education and energy – Quandl has made it just as easy to download the data. Quandl also sports a very nice API for pulling data directly from Quandl into your favorite mathematical or statistical software package. My package of choice is R and I will be writing some posts in the near future introducing both R and Quandl.
I have only just begun to play with Quandl and expect to spend more time with it going forward. There is a tremendous amount of potential for both Quandl and it’s users.