A tale of four cities: exploring the soul of State College, Detroit, Milledgeville and Biloxi

  • Karsten Maurer
  • Dave Osthus
  • Adam LoyEmail author
Original paper


Can data help us explore and expose the soul of the community? This was the challenge posed by the 2013 Data Exposition. The Knight Foundation, in cooperation with Gallup, furnished data from 43,000 people over 3 years (2008–2010) in 26 communities, which we explored in an effort to discover variables associated with community attachment. Our analysis focused on four cities that stood out after our initial exploration of the data set: State College, PA; Detroit, MI; Milledgeville, GA; and Biloxi, MS. We present our use of survey-weighted binned scatterplots to graphically explore the association between an individual’s community attachment and perceived economic outlook. Additionally, we present a few other analyses we found interesting during our initial exploration which we view as a collection of “short stories”.


2013 ASA data exposition Exploratory data analysis Survey data Reproducible research Statistical graphics Binned scatterplots 



  1. Auguie B (2012) gridExtra: functions in grid graphics., R package version 0.9.1
  2. Bennett J (2013) Central state closing to mental health patients. Salon. Accessed 18 July 2013
  3. Davey M, Walsh MW (2013) Billions in debt, detroit tumbles into insolvency. Accessed 18 July 2013
  4. Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, LLP (2012) Report of the special investigative counsel regarding the actions of the Pennsylvania State University related to the child sexual abuse committed by Gerald A. Sandusky. Penn State University, Board of TrusteesGoogle Scholar
  5. Hofmann H, Wickham H, Cook D (2019) The 2013 data expo of the American Statistical Association. Comput Stat (to appear)Google Scholar
  6. Korn EL, Graubard BI (1998) Scatterplots with survey data. Am Stat 52(1):58–69Google Scholar
  7. R Core Team (2013) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.
  8. Reich R (2013) Income inequality ruined detroit. Salon accessed 18 July 2013
  9. Unwin A, Theus M, Hofmann H (2006) Graphics of large datasets: visualizing a million. Springer, New YorkCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  10. Wickham H (2009) ggplot2: elegant graphics for data analysis. Springer, New YorkCrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  11. Wickham H (2011) The split-apply-combine strategy for data analysis. J Stat Softw 40(1):1–29MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Xie Y (2013) Dynamic documents with R and knitr. Chapman and Hall/CRC, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of StatisticsIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsLawrence UniversityAppletonUSA

Personalised recommendations