#ThisWeekInData March 16, 2018

Each week we will bring you a summary of what happened this week on our site, on Twitter, and in the wider world of civic data. Suggest stories on Twitter with #ThisWeekInData.

According to Wired, the Florida Legislature approved a bill that requires every entity within the state’s criminal justice system to collect more data and publish it in one publicly accessible database. The database will store anonymized data about individual defendants, including previously unrecorded details about their ethnicities and the precise terms of their plea deals. It will also include county-level data like the daily number of people being held in a given jail pre-trial and the court’s annual misdemeanor caseload. The bill requires counties to turn over about 25 percent more data than they currently do and connects previously siloed and antiquated databases.

GovTech highlighted the five winners of the 2018 Smart Cities Readiness Challenge Grant, an initiative of the Smart Cities Council that provides coaching, workshops, products, and services to help jurisdiction build and refine their smart city visions. This year’s winners were Louisville, Birmingham, Cary NC, Las Vegas, and the state of Virginia. These five projects were chosen for their efforts to uncover synergies and cost-efficiencies between departments, foster collaboration between departments and external stakeholders, and serve vulnerable populations. With these goals in mind, these communities will leverage technologies including video analytics, community Wi-Fi, fiber-optic connectivity, and more.

GovTech also profiled a few of the 35 “champion cities” in the 2018 Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, which provides financial support for cities to solve compelling civic issues using data and technology. Initiatives include a sustainable transportation experiments in Boulder, a personalized emergency alert system in Charleston, a more resilient power network in Coral Gables, FL, a centralized application that pairs tenants and landlords in Elk Grove, CA, and a solar energy project in Georgetown, TX.

Route Fifty reported that New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden has begun using facial recognition technology in order to identify individuals and determine if they are “considered a problem.” Originally uncovered by the New York Times, the technology can also theoretically track what fans purchase in the building or are specifically interested in, so they can be targeted with advertising. While not illegal, many privacy advocates object to the software’s widespread use since it allows silent surveillance without consent.

StackOverflow recently conducted a survey of 100,000 software developers to understand their opinions on bias in AI. The survey revealed that most coders are concerned with the effects of AI on society, as nearly 50 percent believe that developers themselves should be responsible for considering the ramifications of the technology, while 28 percent believe government should be responsible, and 17 percent that industry leaders should take charge. And, developers are most concerned about the potential for AI to perpetuate bias and less worried about the potential for a post-apocalyptic singularity situation. Read more at Fast Co.Design.

On Data-Smart, Erica Pincus examined the potential for governments to deploy data in order improve job training and placement. By leveraging computational power to close the skills gap, data-driven platforms to match job seekers and employers, and longitudinal data systems to better assess what is working well and where there are areas for improvement, governments can put more qualified applicants in well-suited jobs.

Wired published an op-ed calling for Facebook to provide much more data to academic researchers in order to facilitate insights into more meaningful online interactions, digital propaganda, and many other areas. Currently, the company shares data with a select few, which limits society’s ability to analyze and understand Facebook’s troves of information and requires scholars to revert to less accurate and awkward workarounds like user surveys and algorithm audits. In order to mitigate privacy concerns, Facebook can anonymize data before handing it over to researchers, as LinkedIn did in a recent project.

To demonstrate the range of ways that data intermediaries and their services benefit city and county governments, the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) published an overview brief supported by case studies for three cities. According to the brief, local governments should engage with data intermediaries—local organizations that amass data from a number of disparate groups like non-profits and foundations—to more effectively identify priority issues, find new allies, and devise data-driven policies and programs. In addition to their topical, analytic, and community engagement expertise, these organizations bring an understanding of local context, a reputation for impartial analysis, and a set of relationships that spans sectors.

On Data-Smart, we published a recording of our webinar "Putting People First: Data Stewardship for a Well-Run City." In the webinar, leaders from Los Angeles define the city's approach to data governance and outline quick wins that other organizations can leverage to develop system-wide improvements and develop a data-ready culture eager to innovate and iterate in this evolving space.

The Mayor’s Office of Washington D.C. published its annual Chief Data Officer’s Annual Report, which evaluates the previous fiscal year’s progress in implementing the city’s data policy. The city's accomplishments included an inventory of city 1,640 city datasets, the creation of an Interagency Data Team (IDT), a number of community events and hackathons, the hiring of two data scientists, and the development of an updated open data portal.

For Data-Smart’s Map Monday series, Jess Weaver profiled “Mapping Incomes,” a new Esri story map that illustrates trends in income diversity and the concentration of wealth and poverty in cities throughout the US. By analyzing neighborhood economic diversity in addition to incomes, the map reveals that economic homogeneity limits economic opportunity, and is most likely to be found in America’s poorest communities. By understanding the relationship between income diversity and economic vitality, cities can develop more effective incentives for development and better target service delivery.