The McFarthest Spot
It thrills me that data seems to flow faster and wider today than it ever has before. Vast amounts of data; stuff no one thought to collect or were able to collect in the past.
What thrills me are the clever things people do with all this data. I’ll use as an example the data provided by the fine folks at AggData.com. Take a look there – tons of retail data. Need a complete list of Menards locations? (Save big money!) $19 gets you a CSV file of all locations with geo coordinates. Pretty spiffy if you ask me.
What would you do with such info? If you are blogger Steve Worley you begin to wonder about all the McDonalds here in the US. Specifically, you compute the McFarthest Spot: The location in the lower 48 states that involves the greatest distance one must drive to reach a McDonalds. The McFarthest distance is 145 miles (by car) or 107 miles as the crow flies.
Steve produced a stunning map of the contiguous US visualized by distance to the nearest McDonalds with full write-up.
No one lives farther than 145 miles from a McDonalds. That makes me think. Could we compute the same measure for other services? Doctors, hospitals, clinics and the like? Would those distances be greater or lesser? What does that say about our society if it turns out that the McFarthest distance is much, much less than the greatest distance to reach basic health care.
I’m not talking about the metaphorical distance we have to go to actually put a health care system in place.