Getting the Right Hands on the Right Data is the Goal. Conversations are the Bonus.

On January 27, 2016, the City of Orlando launched the first event of its kind and assembled a multi-stakeholder community of interest to examine the data associated with a thorny social epidemic: Violence Against Women.

In May 2015, the White House launched a progressive program designed to engender trust between the police agencies across the country and the citizens they serve. The program called, “The Police Data Initiative (PDI)” was the brainchild of two (then) White House Innovation Fellows, Denice Ross and Clarence Wardell III who, at the time, worked alongside a few dozen other brainiac citizen geeks and 21st century open data philosophers to bring about systemic change that benefits the American citizen. President Obama signed an executive order to make the Innovation Fellows program permanent in August.

The PDI is effectively a proactive government response to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing where some 14 of the 74 issues identified had to do with technology and transparency. The timing of the final report and the PDI announcement coincided fortuitously with the social justice backlash over the crisis in Ferguson, MO. By opening up the data, civic hackers, researchers, the media, and the public now have the same view into incidents and details that is routinely tracked by police departments. The data is the public record, in this sense.

Today, the PDI agencies are growing across the country. The latest count is 34. Goals for the PDI in 2016 are ambitious. Orlando joined the PDI in the summer of 2015. Because of the collaborative relationship between law enforcement, domestic and sexual abuse advocates, and the city of Orlando, the White House team pegged Orlando to try a first-time experiment by pulling the community together to focus on a single issue. Of course, the issue was violence against women which is our interest at Big Mountain Data. The event was held January 27, 2016 at The Iron Yard in downtown Orlando. The city is preparing to unveil its open data portal sometime in March. The work that went into the data exploration on domestic violence and sexual assault will become input to what ultimately is released on the public portal.

We were thrilled to participate in this first event. The event has been hailed as a great “first step” endeavor to bring together a community focused on a single issue with an eye toward connecting and building trust. It also serves to inspire more PDI agencies to take a chance with the sort of culture change required to view data as a community resource to solve social problems.

If your city would like to see how the data you have already collected by your police department can help you understand your exposure to violence against women in your community, please contact us. We are eager to take the lessons learned from this first pilot to other cities across the country.