• Melissa Rosales

My First Data Set: Liquor Licenses in Massachusetts

My first data set shows all establishments in Boston licensed to sell alcohol for on premise consumption by the Licensing Board.


Who collects this data set? If it's an organization, which department of the organization? Is there a specific person listed who you could contact?

The Boston Licensing Board assigned the Department of Innovation and Technology to collect this data. To contact them directly, their email is analyticsteam@boston.gov


Why do you think the organization collects this data? Does it specify how it uses the data?

When I took my ServSafe Alcohol course in my serve job, I learned that alcohol licenses are very difficult to get and very strict. This is mainly because of the Licensing Board, there are only a limited number of alcohol licenses allowed in the city so it is important that they keep a record. The data doesn't specify why they use it but I believe it's for this sole purpose.


What time period does the data set cover?

The data set was made in Dec. 11, 2016. It's interesting to discover that it was LAST updated on the same day. As mentioned in its description, this is a legacy data set. I believe they should update this since it's licensed by Open Data Commons Public Domain Dedication and License (PDDL). Basically, this is public domain information so it should be up to date


What are some questions you have about this data set? (Note: they can be basic like "why is this data being collected?" or very specific like "what does the field BUS_LIC_STATUS mean?")

My speculation about why the data is being collected is a good one but it would be nice to get a direct and clear answer as to why. I also would like to ask why the data is not CLEANED! My professor, partner, and I all had to clean the data because some of them said "2PM" or "2 p.m." I also would like to ask why have they not updated the data set? I believe this is a very important data set for people to access but it's four years late. Lastly, I wanted to investigate which areas have the most alcohol licensed areas with the latest closing time. The visualization below is my attempt to answer this question. Based on the zipcodes, it seems the closet the establishment is to downtown or the main city, the later the closing time.


Who are three types of people you could interview about this data set in order to learn more? 

I would definitely reach out to someone who works for the Boston Licensing Board so I can understand the process of the licensing. Another type of person would be someone who works in the alcohol establishment business so definitely someone who owns a lot of alcohol establishments since they have worked with Boston Licensing Board for multiple years and know the process and demographics themselves. Lastly, a member of the analytics team in the Department of Innovation and Technology because I need to understand why the data is not updated and why it's imperfect.




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