The future of data-driven justice lies in collaboration between the tech community, nonprofits, and government services.
Durham, NC (PRWEB) December 17, 2015
At a press conference held today at Caktus Group headquarters, civil rights nonprofit The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) publicly launched OpenDataPolicingNC.com with a cross-section of activists, police representatives, elected officials, and technologists present. The first site of its kind, OpenDataPolicingNC.com draws upon public records to publish up-to-date stop, search, and use-of-force data—broken down by race and ethnicity—for every police department and anonymized officer in the state of North Carolina. There are approximately 20 million data points in total.
“The project is open source for anyone to see and use,” said Colin Copeland, the project’s lead software developer as well as CTO and co-founder of Caktus Group. “The future of data-driven justice lies in collaboration between the tech community, nonprofits, and government services.”
Copeland is one of three volunteer software developers SCSJ approached to develop the website. The team had a total of 29 years of experience amongst its members and included data scientist Andy Shapiro and engineer Dylan Young. They used an iterative approach that focused on providing the greatest ease of use for site visitors.
“Traffic stops are the most common way citizens interact with police officers,” said Ian Mance, project lead and staff attorney at SCSJ. “This site enables anyone who engages with these issues—whether they be police chiefs, courts, lawyers, or policymakers—to ground their conversation in the facts.”
A beta version of the website, presented to White House officials this past fall, aligns with the White House’s Police Data Initiative. Fayetteville PD, a member precinct of the initiative, will provide future guidance for additional features to the website.
“The sharing of this information allows for a better interpretation of the data and for the evaluation to be done at a quick rate that was previously not available,” said Fayetteville Police Department Chief of Police Harold Medlock. “This platform presents the information in a manner that increases the transparency of the Fayetteville Police Department and improves the community and police relationship.”
In addition to Chief Medlock, Mance, and Copeland, Charlie Reece of the Durham City Council was also in attendance.