Louisville’s Open Data Day — Public Safety, Alexa, and Firearms

Louisville Metro Government (LMG), in conjunction with our Code for America brigade the Civic Data Alliance, participated in one of 345 simultaneous worldwide events for International Open Data Day. Our event’s focus was public safety.

We opened new data sets and APIs, improved existing data sets, and added meta data, data dictionaries, and cross-linked data sets in preparation for the event to our DKAN Open Data Portal.

Over 80 attendees from the community participated for the first hackathon at our newly opened LouieLab collaborative space.

LMG hosted the event, which included Mayor Greg Fischer, LMPD, DoIT employee Matt Gotth-Olsen, and the Office of Performance Improvement and Innovation team (Michael Schnuerle, Grace Simrall, Mary Hampton, Ed Blayney, and Chris Seidt), making it a true public/private event.

For the first time, LMPD participated in a hackathon, and Officers Eric Johnson and Donnie Madsen were on hand to explain the nuances of the public safety data. This provided very valuable insights, despite each data set having good meta data, a complete data dictionary, and relational linking info across data sets. Having subject matter experts at your event is invaluable, and improves relationships with the community.

The Event

Public Safety was the focus of the day, and the goal was to build projects around related open data. Another benefit of events like this is building and strengthening a network of people interested in civic technology, data, and innovation. The CDA events have always been collaborative — there’s never been monetary prizes. This encourages people to move between projects and help each other out, instead of hunkering down in an isolated team.

Attendees spent an entire beautiful Saturday at the event, braved detours from a 5K race that went right by the front door of the building, and many drove over 2-4 hours just to attend. The dedication and spirit of the attendees was evident and it showed throughout the day in each project.

The Projects

After 10 initial projects were pitched by attendees around everything from walking safety, emergency room capacity, redlining, NARCAN administration locations, firearm predictive analytics, and smart home integrations, the group narrowed it down to just 6 projects. Here’s what they presented at the end of the day.

Project 1 — Firearms Intake data visualization

A dedicated team took a look at our newly released Firearm Intake data. One of the big challenges was geocoding the locations, since it was anonymized to the block level or to street intersections, and many geocoders don’t handle this well. Co-Captain Robert Kahne did some visualizations too.

Project 2 — Alexa Crime Updates

During the event a team build an Alexa integration that allows you to ask for recent crime in your area, by category. They found the speech recognition worked very well and did a great job getting an MVP in such a short time.

Project 3 — Budget Visualization and Call to Action

A group from The Glass Capitol came to event looking to enhance their product. They visualized the proposed budget a few ways, and focused on a breakdown of the Public Safety area. The best part was allowing citizens to directly connect to their Metro Council representatives to provide feedback on budget areas they thought were a priority.

Project 4— Alexa Skill for Hate Crimes

CDA co-captain Margeaux Spring worked with her team to create Alexa flash briefings. They also worked on analyzing hate crimes, by pulling and processing that data from our Open Data Portal.

Project 5— Vision Louisville Response Analysis

CDA co-captain Becky Steele led an effort to create a taxonomy and visual categorization around the myriad text responses received for the Vision Louisville project 2 years ago.

Project 6— Bicycle and Car Collision Analysis

A group took car collision data that involved bicycles from the KY State Police website (the LMPD collects this and rolls it up to the state level), mapped it, and started to look at trends over time. The goal is to paint a compelling data map for ‘safest routes’ for bike or walker commuters.

There were also some interesting smaller projects, like Pat Smith’s historic streetcar map, and Errin Johnson’s Metro Form Finder.

The Conclusions

This was the largest Civic Data Alliance event hosted over the past 4 years, due to close alignment with city partners, the focus on public safety, and connection to Open Data Day. It shows how vibrant Louisville’s civic tech community is, and how it’s grown over the years.

The new LouieLab space worked out great, with 2 large rooms and 2 small rooms, allowing teams to organize and have room to work.

The connections made at hackathons continue to grow in the coming weeks and years, as will the projects started at the event. Some attendees have been coming for 4 years, and building that network is essential to building local capacity and getting things done.

The importance of leadership also cannot be overstated. Mayor Greg Fischer has attended every single CDA hackathon in person, even the first ones that only had 20 or so attendees (2011 Transportation Camp) (2013 CodeAcross) (2013 Hack for Change). His support on open data and process improvement has been the key factor to getting Louisville where it is today on the international stage around transparency, innovation, performance improvement, and open data.

Thanks to all the organizers, sponsors, and attendees. The city of Louisville’s Open Data Portal hosted the event, Astronomer.io provided the food, and the CDA organized (and created some great new stickers/buttons for the event). The CDA has a great event write up too. We’ll see you next time.