Our previous post showed an interactive map of UFO sightings drawn from the NUFORC dataset. Whilst this did allow us to see UFO sightings over time, it remained a relatively crude tool that created a static visualisation for each year.

In delving deeper into the NUFORC data, it has become useful to create a more interactive tool. As we believe in providing potentially dangerous knowledge to the woefully unprepared mind, the Weird Data Science laboratory trepidatiously unveils the Global UFO Inquirer.

This is a Leaflet-based map, built on R and Shiny. The map can be explored at will, restricted to any range of dates, with each data point from the NUFORC dataset labelled. Clicking on the icon for a report will unveil the location, date, and details of that report.

This has highlighted that our initial dataset is sadly incomplete. Firstly, NUFORC reports are frequently updated and the dataset we have ends in 2014. Of greater importance, however, is that the dataset to which we have access contains only the summary details of each report, which is restricted to the first line of text. The NUFORC website contains the full details, but these are not currently in our dataset.

We will therefore be developing a scraper to extract the full data from the NUFORC website as it is updated and feed it into the Inquirer. There is existing code floating around the net to carry out part of this task, but more work is needed. As an initial step we will link each report in the Global UFO Inquirer to the full online NUFORC report, but full data in the tool is the ultimate goal.

You can keep up to date with our latest collating of statistical horror on Twitter at @WeirdDataSci.

Every day, the horror deepens.