The new open theme for the MTFC allows teams to define their own research topic – just like you would a science fair project. If you haven’t yet, make sure to view the Actuarial Process Guide to learn more about the project structure! Every project is required to use real world data to mathematically model the risks you are studying. We provide a number of recommended datasets that we think may be useful for an MTFC project; however, you are not limited to just these datasets. Other topics and other valuable datasets to use in these topics are welcome.
General Data Sources for Multiple Topics
The United States Census Bureau has a very easy to use and robust online query tool to help find any Census related data associated with a particular topic you are interested in. This is a simple text query tool that will bring forward various statistics, information, and data tables that can be downloaded and analyzed separately. This may be an extremely valuable tool early on in exploring your MTFC project topic and can help you understand what data is available in many areas from the Census. You can also sign up for weekly emails from the US Census Bureau for up-to-date information.
The United States Census Bureau includes a list of all surveys and program. MTFC teams may find it valuable to explore the Census programs and topic areas. Each program includes publicly available datasets and tables that can be exported from the program website. Use this link to explore all the Census programs and data available and see if there is one on the topic area you are interested in.
USA Facts gathers data and statistics about many aspects of government spending finances, public life, statistics, and more. On this site you can compare historical trends, dig deep into the numbers, and interact with visualizations designed to give you a better idea of government’s impact on the nation and its people. In addition to Coronavirus information mentioned in another tutorial, USAFacts includes information in areas such as government finances, security and safety, the economy, and people and society. We encourage teams to explore the datasets available on these pages to help see what is available for the topics you are interested in.
NASA Open Data initiative shares a wealth of data from its programs and missions that may be valuable for student teams. Particularly, NASA provides a lot of data about the Earth, our environment, and climate. There may also be interest from some teams in exploring some of NASA’s other data to identify risks and recommendations on projects with a more “out there” scope! The NASA Open Data site provides several links with information in actual numeric tables that may be valuable for mathematical models and characterizing risks; however, it also provides many great data visualizations that may be helpful in your team’s background research.
The Society of Actuaries provides a number of research studies on various topics that may be of interest to MTFC teams. These reports do not provide downloadable datasets for analysis, but may provide some valuable background research and information on some topics. Teams can review these research reports to see if there is high-level background information that may be useful in defining their project topics.
Github is a valuable resource to find data. It is mainly used for keeping computer programming code and data; however, people across the world use Github to host their own datasets and link to others that do as well. Try searching for “Open Data” or “Public Data” on the main Github site. This will bring up many collections. Many are only valuable if you are familiar with computer programming to use code available to analyze datasets. However, some people also have created lists of existing public datasets. For example, you could look at the “Awesome Public Datasets” to find a list, sorted by topic area, of over a hundred different specific open source datasets. Not all of these will be valuable for an actuarial risk analysis project, but you may find some unique to explore depending on your project topic.