There are lots of good reasons you might want to analyze public data, from detecting salary trends in government data to uncovering insights about a potential investment (or your favorite sports team).
But before you can run analyses and visualize trends, you need to have the data. The packages listed below make it easy to find economic, sports, weather, political and other publicly available data and import it directly into R -- in a format that's ready for you to work your analytics magic.
Packages that are on CRAN can be installed on your system by using the R command
install.packages("packageName") -- you only need to run this once. GitHub packages are best installed with the devtools package -- install that once with
install.packages("devtools") and then use that to install packages from GitHub using the format
devtools::install_github("repositoryName/packageName"). Once installed, you can load a package into your working session once each session using the format
Some of the sample code below comes from package documentation or blog posts by package authors. For more information about a package, you can run
help(package="packageName") in R to get info on functions included in the package and, if available, links to package vignettes (R-speak for additional documentation). To see sample code for a particular function, try
example(topic="functionName", package="packageName") or simply
?functionName for all available help about a function including any sample code (not all documentation includes samples).
For more useful R packages, see Great R Packages for data import, wrangling and visualization.
R packages to import public data
|Package||Category||Description||Sample Code||More info|
|blscrapeR||Economics, Government||For specific information about U.S. salaries and employment info, the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers a wealth of data available via this new package. blsAPI package is another option. CRAN.||bls_api(c("LEU0254530800", "LEU0254530600"),
startyear = 2000, endyear = 2015)
|Blog post by package author|
|FredR||Finance, Government||If you're interested just in Fed data, FredR can access data from the Federal Reserve Economic Data API, including 240,000 US and international data sets from 77 sources. Free API key needed. GitHub.||fred <- FredR(api.key)
gdp <- fred$series.observations(series_id = 'GDPC1')
|Project's GitHub page|
|quantmod||Finance, Government||This package is designed for financial modelling but also has functions to easily pull data from Google Finance, Yahoo Finance and the St. Louis Federal Reserve (FRED). CRAN.||getSymbols("DEXJPUS",src="FRED")||Intro on getting data|
|censusapi||Government||There are several other R packages that work with data from the U.S. Census, but this aims to be complete and offer data from all the bureau's APIs, not just from one or two surveys. API key required. GitHub.||mydata <- getCensus(name="acs5", vintage=2014,
vars=c("NAME", "B01001_001E", "B19013_001E"),
region="congressional district:*", regionin="state:36")
|See the Computerworld tutorial; an Urban Institute presentation also has more details.|
|eu.us.opendata||Government||This joint project of the U.S. and European Union governments aims to make it easy to import and compare US and EU data sets. Free U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis API key needed. GitHub.||getRel('gross domestic product', lucky = T, beaKey = myKey)
getRel('gdp', lucky = T, beaKey = myKey)
|See the project's README file for installation and usage instructions.|
|RSocrata||Government||Pull data from any municipality that uses the Socrata data platform. Created by the City of Chicago data team. CRAN.||mydata <- read.socrata(
|RSocrata blog post|
|forbesListR||Misc||A bit of a niche offering, this taps into lists maintained by Forbes including largest private companies, top business schools and top venture capitalists. GitHub.||#top venture capitalists 2012-2016
get_years_forbes_list_data(years = 2012:2016,
list_name = "Top VCs")
|See the project GitHub page. You may need to manually load the tidyr package for code to work.|
|pollstR||Politics||This package pulls political polling data from the Huffington Post Pollster API. CRAN.||elec_2016_polls <- pollster_chart_data(
|See the Intro vignette|
|Lahman||Sports||R interface for the famed Lahman baseball database. CRAN.||batavg <- battingStats()||Blog post Hacking the new Lahman Package 4.0-1 with RStudio|
|stattleshipR||Sports||Stattleship offers NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB game data via a partnership with Gracenote. API key (currently still free) needed. GitHub.||set_token("your-API-token")
sport <- 'baseball'
league <- 'mlb'
ep <- 'game_logs'
q_body <- list(team_id='mlb-bos', status='ended',
gls <- ss_get_result(sport=sport, league=league,
ep=ep, query=q_body, walk=TRUE)
game_logs <- do.call('rbind',
lapply(gls, function(x) x$game_logs))
|See the Stattleship blog post|
|weatherData||Weather||Pull historical weather data from cities/airports around the world. CRAN. If you have trouble pulling data, especially on a Mac, try uninstalling and re-installing a different version with the code
||mydata <- getWeatherForDate("BOS", "2016-08-01",
|See this post by the package author.|