Analyzing 8 million data from public speed limit detectors radars

Analyzing 8 million data from public speed limit detectors radars

Organisation: El Confidencial (Spain)

Publication Date: 04/06/2017


Size of team/newsroom:large



Spain has a Freedom of Information Act for more than two years. Since then, El Confidencial Data Team has used it to gather data an important public documents. One of the best examples of the use of FOIA was the database obtained about the traffic sanctions due to exceeding the speed limits in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Traffic Administration gave us a CD with three .txt files (one for each year), totalling nearly 8 million sanctions. Each registry of each sanction contains information about date, hour, road, kilometer, province, municipality, vehicle, radar, speed limit, speed, gravity of the sanctions, cuantity of the sanction, cuantity payed and points taken. All the information of the three txt files was uploaded in an unique PostgreSQL database to analyze it. The analysis was used to write three reports: the first one, an overview about 'When, where and hoy the radars caught the drivers who exceed the speed limits' (; the second one about the empty radar boxes, which we call 'ghost radars' (, and the third one about the differences between the fix radars and the mobile radars, which are managed by agents ( Although we did not upload the data to our Github due its size, we shared the data with three newspapers ofn Navarra (, Asturias ( and Granada (

What makes this project innovative? What was its impact?

This project is innovative due to the use of the new Spanish Freedom of Information Act, which was approved on December 2014. This use was used to know more details about the traffic road sanctions of exceeding the speed limit, the main type of road sanctions in Spain. The public interest of this information was really big: the three articles published in El Confidencial were read by more than 220.000 unique users, totalling more than 246.000 page views. Also, the average time on the page was around one minute, according to Chartbeat. Finally, the articles published by the three local newspapers were very useful to reach more audiences.

Technologies used for this project:

Freedom of Information Act to obtain the data, PostgreSQL to gather it in an unique database and to analyze it, Adobe Illustrator, Datawrapper, Tableau Public and CartoDB to visualize it in the three articles published by El Confidencial.
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