How Better Data Can Reduce Domestic Violence

October 21, 2014 1:53 pm PDT | Data Apps & Visualization, Data as a Service
Photo: Katie Tegtmeye: Flickr

While recent events have thrust domestic violence into the headlines, the issue is neither new nor uncommon. In an average minute, 20 people in the US are victims of physical violence at the hands of their partners. Statistics like these are illuminating, but they do not fully reveal the true depth of the matter.  Additionally, there are numerous cultural and language barriers which make the collection of data on this very sensitive issue difficult.

Urban Institute believes improving the available data on domestic violence will provide new insights into how to strengthen existing policies and create better ones. So, on November 1st,  the organization is hosting a Data Dive in partnership with the Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP) and sponsored by Socrata.

According to Jonathan Schwabish, Senior Researcher and Data Visualization Expert at Urban Institute, the event, entitled “How Better Data Can Reduce Domestic Violence,” is not a typical hackathon. “It’s not even a typical data dive,” Schwabish said in an interview with Socrata, “Although we are working on a technical challenge, like at a hackathon, we are really planning to leverage what Urban Institute does so well — elevating the debate using our expertise in social issues and combining that philosophy with technology.”

That combination will yield an event which will be divided into two tracks. The first group will visualize and analyze data on domestic violence, largely provided by DVRP, which will be accessible through a specially built Socrata site. This group’s goal for the day is to create data visualizations which highlight the lack of quality data on domestic violence.

A second group, comprised mainly of domestic violence experts, analysts, and writers, will spend its time at the event drafting documentation on the issues encountered when looking at domestic violence, calling for more data, and addressing cultural barriers about the data collected.

The 40 – 50 participants at the event will start the day with a panel discussion by domestic violence experts who will speak about data challenges, in particular how those challenges arise among various cultural and ethnic groups. “One of the results of the day will be improved sensitivity,” Schwabish says, “Whenever we’re exposed to other groups and ethnicities, we become more sensitive. And, in this case, where we are dealing with serious and terrible issue, it is critical to be sensitive.”

Urban Institute and DVRP are calling on all DC-area researchers, techies, designers, policy makers, analysts, writers or journalists, and interested people from the government and NGOs to be a part of this rewarding day working on a such a meaningful and in-the-news issue. Register to attend now.

“If you aren’t able to attend, but are interested in improving domestic violence data,” Schwabish advises, “You can follow along on November 1st as we live tweet the event under #urbandatadive. We really want to hear from people how they want to address domestic violence and the data collected on it.”

In addition to getting people involved via social media, Schwabish also encourages people to review and use the available domestic violence data by visiting the event’s open data portal.


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