Ben Matheson

Ben Matheson|

My name is Ben Matheson. I build web and data projects to solve problems and bring about clarity.

I currently work with #rstats and #d3 to analyze data, visualize ideas, and otherwise build things on the internet. Always looking for interesting projects.

You can find code on GitHub. I’ve also worked in radio across Alaska and make unnecessary twitter bots.

Latest Posts

Alaska Wildfire Growth Animations

August 2019 · 1 minute read

The 2019 fire season has been destructive and long-lasting. More than 2.5 million acres have been burned across 707 fires as of September 9, 2019, according to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center . Below are videos showing the mapped fire perimeters growth over the course of the summer (until the end of August). Statewide Fires Swan Lake Fire The Swan Lake fire has burned since the start of summer and sent a lot of smoke across southcentral Alaska.

For All Generations of Alaskans: How Sustainable is the Statutory Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend?

August 2019 · 12 minute read

Image: from the 1989 annual report. From 1983 to 2015, every woman, man, kid, and baby received an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check with an amount calculated by a 1982 law. It was rarely questioned publicly until the last five years because of ample petroleum revenues and several years of cushion thanks to the billions in the Constitutional Budget Reserve (now just fumes.) A former APFC website via waybackmachine. Thanks in part to a booming stock market that prescribes a big dividend (around $3,000 per citizen), a reckoning for the 1982 calculation has begun.

Flying 1,000 Miles on The Iditarod Trail - Data Visualization and Map

March 2019 · 6 minute read

When March arrives in Alaska, there are two things on everyone’s mind: The sun is back (and out until 10 p.m.). The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is on. To celebrate this year, I built a project that fuses a map of high resolution satellite imagery with an enormous amount of checkpoint data and a few 3D effects. Ultimately a proof-of-concept that got far out of hand. I have covered the race for Alaska public radio a couple times by travelling from checkpoint to checkpoint in a a small two-person airplane, a 50-year-old Piper Supercub.

Beltway Billions Data Visualization

July 2018 · 2 minute read

The government spends billions of dollars per year on a dizzying array of gear and specialized services: office furniture, cloud computing, breakfast cereal, and advanced weapons systems are among destinations of taxpayer funds. I created a project to explore how a half-trillion dollars of federal funds go to Washington D.C. contractors and competitors in 50 states. This analysis, based on data published on Enigma Public, explores the geography of this contract spending among beltway firms and the thousands of regional and small-town competitors.

ICE Contracts in Every State

July 2018 · 2 minute read

Like any government bureaucracy, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Detention Compliance and Removals Office buys a a variety of supplies to run their detention facilities and maintain their offices. In light of public attention on the agency, I built a small tool to explore the millions of dollars in contracts. In addition to office essentials like copy paper and housekeeping services, the agency has contracts on the books for items like “alien meals,” “Cuffs/Belly Chains/ Shackles” (Galls, Inc), and a “database For Use By Fugops And Lear Teams To Assist In Apprehension Of Absconders And Criminal Illegal Aliens.