A multisource database tracking the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the communities of Boston, MA, USA

Alina Ristea, Riley Tucker, Shunan You, Mehrnaz Amiri, Nicholas Beauchamp, Edgar Castro, Qiliang Chen, Alexandra Ciomek, Bidisha Das, Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, Sage Gibbons, Forrest Hangen, Barrett Montgomery, Petros Papadopoulos, Cordula Robinson, Saina Sheini, Michael Shields, Xin Shu, Michael Wood, Babak Heydari, Dan O’Brien
Nature scientific data
Article number: 330 (2022)
June 20, 2022


A pandemic, like other disasters, changes how systems work. In order to support research on how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the dynamics of a single metropolitan area and the communities therein, we developed and made publicly available a “data-support system” for the city of Boston. We actively gathered data from multiple administrative (e.g., 911 and 311 dispatches, building permits) and internet sources (e.g., Yelp, Craigslist), capturing aspects of housing and land use, crime and disorder, and commercial activity and institutions. All the data were linked spatially through BARI’s Geographical Infrastructure, enabling conjoint analysis. We curated the base records and aggregated them to construct ecometric measures (i.e., descriptors of a place) at various geographic scales, all of which were also published as part of the database. The datasets were published in an open repository, each accompanied by a detailed documentation of methods and variables. We anticipate updating the database annually to maintain the tracking of the records and associated measures.

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