Category Archives: Statistics

Volcano watching

For those of us with friends and families stranded away from home because of “that volcano” in Iceland, and those who had been planning to travel through Europe in the next few days, volcano watching has become a way of life. There is a myriad of resources providing information on volcanoes in general, the progress of ash clouds, and links to live volcano web cams including Eyjafjallajökull – the current villain of the piece.

Let’s start with the web cams. Volcano Web Cams – John Seach has links to some of them including Eyjafjallajökull ( At the time of writing, though, the servers linking the three web cams covering Iceland’s bête noire to the rest of the world appear to have been overloaded with traffic and are rejecting connections. A list of US volcano web cams is on the US Geological Survey web site at Volcano Hazards Program Webcams For volcanoes elsewhere, Volcano WebCams around the Pacific Ring of Fire and Beyond is at

General information and data on US volcanoes is available via the USGS at If you are worried about supervolcano Jellystone – sorry, Yellowstone – going up, that has its own observatory at For volcanoes worldwide there is a comprehensive list at the Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program ( that you can download in Excel format. The list is is also available on the Guardian datablog at “Volcanic ash: how do you spot the next volcano to disrupt flights?” In addition The Guardian article includes the ICAO map (International Civil Aviation Organization) that shows how flight routes cross volcanic risks.

The London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre at the UK Met Office issues updated graphics of the ash cloud at

London VAAC Images

The Guardian news blog has updated daily blog postings of all news concerning the volcano and its impact on travel. Today’s posting is at

And finally, there are some spectacular and beautiful photographs at “More from Eyjafjallajokull”

Internet Statistics: BBC SuperPower – Visualising the internet

Looking for some interesting stats about the web? Then head straight for this section on the BBC web site (, which is part of SuperPower, a season of programmes exploring the power of the internet. It provides a range of statistics including interactive graphics showing the most visited sites and types of site on the internet (as measured by Nielsen). The top 100 sites graphic breaks down into search/portals, social networks, retail sites, media/news and by country. Move your cursor over a block in the visualistaion and it will display the name of the site, number of unique visitors and percentage market share.

The Web Rich List holds no surprises with Larry Page and Sergey Brin at the top and both worth 17.5 billion USD. The Net Growth map has a slider bar underneath it that you can use to view internet usage over time. Set the slider bar at the year you are interested in, move your cursor over a country and it will tell you the number of users.

Growth of the Internet

‘How it Works’ has a very basic set of slides about how the Internet works but you might find the counters to the right of the slides more interesting. They claim to show the estimated number of internet users in the world, the number of email messages posted so far today (includes spam), the number of blog posts today, and the approximate number of Google searches today. An obvious number that is missing is the number of Tweets but you can find some statistics on Twitter’s own blog at Twitter Blog: Measuring Tweets

Google Public Data Explorer- fine as far as it goes

Currently a Google Labs project, the Public Data explorer ( “makes large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As the charts and maps animate over time, the changes in the world become easier to understand.” The example given on the home page is a chart showing data from the World Bank on fertility rates per woman by country and life expectancy at birth. At first glance you may be deterred by what appears to be limited datasets but there are options to explore by selecting countries, different data series and time options.

In the example below I looked at CO2 emissions per capita for selected countries:

Other data sets include the OECD Factbook, some Eurostat collections, and several US datasets. Details can be found at

How useful is Google’s data explorer to the serious researcher? It all depends on whether or not the dataset you require is available – and there are a limited number – and whether or not it covers the years you need. I noticed that some of the datasets had 2005 as the latest year. Although you can embed the “visualizations” in your own web pages there are currently no download options. It is worth familiarising yourself with what has been made available here and the different “visualisation options” are attractive, but you really can’t beat going direct to the original provider of the statistics. My own favourite starting point for tracking down data on a topic and/or country is still OFFSTATS – The University of Auckland Library at

Workshop: Statistics and Market Research

If you need to track down statistics and market research via the web I am running a hands-on workshop under the UKeiG banner in Newcastle on Wednesday 21st April. The venue is the Netskills Training Suite, University of Newcastle. Further details of the workshop and a booking form are available on the UKeiG web site at

Switzerland in Figures

This is a very useful three page PDF summary of Swiss statistics from UBS. It contains more than 1,600 facts and figures on the Swiss economy and each of the cantons, and an international overview of key data. Data includes population, employment, the financial situation, indebtedness, tax levels, and figures on the economy and living standards. This is the 2009 edition.

UBS Switzerland in Figures

Thanks to Gary Price for the alert (

Google compiles industry stats for the UK – sort of

Google has launched a new page that pulls together industry stats for the UK. Google – Internet Stats, which is biased towards information on electronic and online services and products, gathers data from third party vendors many of which are priced. A list is available at the bottom of the Internet Stats page. You can, though, submit your own “killer fact”.  All submissions are vetted by Google.

There are five categories: Technology, Macro Economic Trends, Media Landscape, Media Consumption and  Consumer Trends. Each section has further sub-categories.

This is not the answer to a market/industry researcher’s prayer. The number of statistics is very limited and the search option only searches within the browsable statistics on the landing page. Do not expect to be able to search for and find data on, for example, UK chocolate consumption! If your query falls within one of the listed categories you may be in luck.

Exactly where Google is going with this and why they have introduced it is not clear. This is a UK-only initiative at present and there is no link to it from either the .com or main Google search pages. Neither is it listed in Google Labs. Even the official announcement on “Google Barometer: New! Internet Stats all in one place” gives very little further information.

Online maps for local crime statistics

Police forces in England and Wales are now providing access to local crime statistics via online maps. These allow the public to drill down to ward level and view crime trends in their area. The statistics include information about burglary, robbery, theft, vehicle crime, violent crime and anti-social behaviour.

The maps should be available via the local police web sites, although you may have to hunt around for the links. Once you have found the maps, you can either browse them or enter your post code to find information on just your area. The interfaces and presentation of the data can vary considerably between police forces as does the break-down of the crime statistics. Thames Valley provides a basic map and tables of data, while others such as the Metropolitan police offer graphs as well as the figures. All of the online maps colour code areas according to the levels of crime: high, above average, average, below average, low or no crime.

Metropolitan Police crime statistics for postcode DA17 5JD

Metropolitan Police statistics for postcode DA17 5JD

TriMark Publications – Biotechnology, Healthcare and Life Sciences Market Research

TriMark Publications focuses on market research in biotechnology, health care and the life sciences. You can browse reports or search by keyword. The market reports vary in price but there are detailed table of contents and the first three or four pages available free of charge as a sample. However, any figures or data on the pages are blacked out.  It is refreshing, though, to see a detailed listing of what is contained in the reports before you part with significant amounts of money.

Sector Snapshots cost just USD 500 and provide a high-level overview of a particular market sector, including key players, sales data and emerging trends.

Database Tables, costing USD 100 each, are a one-page table of hard-to-find numerical information. They are derived from “a proprietary source” and provide a high-level overview of specific data points in a table format. Database Tables are not reports or comprehensive analyses.

Simmons & Company – energy statistics and data

Simmons & Company International is the only independent investment bank specializing in the energy industry. Founded in 1974, the firm has acted as financial advisor in over $134 billion of transactions, including 535 merger and acquisitions worth over $93 billion. As well as copies of presentations made by senior partner Matthew R Simmons there is a collection of industry statistics gathered from a variety of sources. These are split into upstream and downstream and include rig counts, summaries of oil and gas prices, US crude oil inventories, refining capacity and days of supply. There is some International data but much of it is North American biased.

Under the main Energy Industry link are lists of major public listed upstream and downstream companies (coverage is world-wide), and links to industry news sources, associations, statistics and government sites (many are North American).

Despite the geographical bias, this is a good starting point for information on the oil and gas industry as it lists most of the key resources.  Matthew Simmons’s presentations and papers are often quoted in the main stream media and are worth monitoring. There is an email alert for new presentations but no RSS. If you are desperate for RSS rather than email  there is always the Page2RSS service that monitors pages for changes and alerts you via RSS.

Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA)

The Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) ( has been set up by the UK Government to implement the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) (, which came into force on 1st April 2008. The RTFO obliges fossil fuel suppliers to ensure that by 2010 biofuels account for 5% by volume of the fuel supplied on UK forecourts. The purpose of the RTFO is to “reduce the UK’s contribution to climate change and its reliance on fossil fuels”. The RFA publishes updates on the progress of the RTFO. These include monthly reports on progress on achieving compliance with sustainability criteria and quarterly reports to the Department for Transport and annual reports to parliament. All reports are available on the web site.

With serious questions being raised about the impact of biofuels on food prices, farming and the environment in general, it will be interesting to see how long this all carries on.  The RFA’s first monthly report has just been published and covers the period 15th April – 14th May 2008. The press release contains some good summary statistics for those of us who need to get hold of such data in a hurry. There are ‘associated files’ (PDF and an Excel spreadsheet) that contain more detailed information.