Open data, analytics key to Police Data Initiative

Open data, analytics key to Police Data Initiative

The White House’s newly announced Police Data Initiative aims to accelerate the development of data transparency and analysis tools to build trust between local police and the communities they serve and improve internal accountability.

In a  described how 21 technology-forward local police departments have been selected to quickly deliver data products and best practices in open data and effective data analysis.  These departments will build on the recommendations of the just-released final report of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing by addressing two key principles: Open data will be used to increase transparency, build community trust and support innovation, and analytics will be applied to internal police data and processes to identify problems, increase internal accountability and decrease inappropriate uses of force.

The 21 police departments have committed to release 101 datasets that have not been available to the public, including data on uses of force, pedestrian and vehicle stops and officer-involved shootings, to help communities gain visibility into police/citizen encounters.

Other open data efforts include:

  • A public safety open data portal for police open data that will make information more easily accessible to law enforcement agencies, community groups and researchers.
  • An open source software tool to help law enforcement agencies using IA Pro police integrity software to extract and open up data.
  • Open data hackathons to build mapping and visualization tools to make this newly released data more accessible.

The second part of the Police Data Initiative addresses internal accountability and effective data analysis.

Twelve of the 21 police departments have committed to sharing data on police/citizen encounters with data scientists to better identify officers who may be having challenges in their interactions with the public.

In addition, data science fellows from the University of Chicago will  work with three to four police departments to build data analysis tools to help police departments identify officer behaviors that point to later problems.

The Oakland Police Department has partnered with researchers at Stanford University to build automated tools to comb through the audio from body-worn cameras to identify police/citizen encounters that either need attention or can serve as models of police behavior.

“We are excited about the Police Data Initiative as a fast, tangible, collaborative response to recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and we are glad that so many cities have stepped forward to work towards better use of data and technology in ways that will build community trust and impact.” Smith and Austin said.  

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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