Does Open Data Build Trust?
The Obama White House
1404

Very interesting! Back in 1979, I had access to some non-public NOLA data, in my case flood insurance claims records. Somebody had asked me and my colleagues to use a gigantic Calcomp drum-plotter in our lab to create a map with Xs at the address of each claim. This gadget drew things on wide rolls of paper with black, blue, green, and red pens.

So we loaded the data (on a nine-track tape) into our minicomputer and started plotting. The Calcomp device proceeded to scratch holes in the paper and then shred it by drawing dozens of Xs on top of each other at certain particular addresses. As it happened, dozens upon dozens of claims were made for certain addresses.

That old-school tech revealed some very interesting anomalies in the claims process. Suffice it to say that the FEMA contractor responsible for approving those claims was not too doggone pleased with our discovery.

Today you could detect the same anomalies without wasting a whole bunch of chart paper and scraping ink off the plotter drum. I’m delighted to see that young people (and police commissioners) are learning to explore this kind of information.

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