Extracting data from news articles: Australian pollution by postcode

The recent ABC News article Australia’s pollution mapped by postcode reveals nation’s dirty truth is interesting. It contains a searchable table, which is useful if you want to look up your own suburb. However, I was left wanting more: specifically, the raw data and some nice maps.

So here’s how I got them, using R.

The full details are in this Github repository. There you’ll find the code to generate this report.

Essentially, the procedure goes like this:

  1. Use rvest to create a data frame from the data table in the online article
  2. Clean and pre-process the data using dplyr
  3. Join the pollution data with geospatial data derived from a shapefile of Australian postal areas
  4. Filter by postcode range for the city of interest
  5. And finally plot maps using ggplot2

Rather than copying/pasting/formatting code here, I encourage you to look at the report.

Result: maps, like the one on the right. I sometimes think R makes this kind of thing almost too easy.