Webinar Spotlight: New Orleans Builds Trust with the Police Data Initiative

August 4, 2015 12:00 pm PST | Public Safety

We recently served up our highest-attended webinar in Socrata history. Considering the current media landscape, the subject matter should come as no surprise. Public safety.

Specifically, “Open Data in Public Safety: Rise of the Police Data Initiative.” If you missed it, the entire session is available for viewing on-demand. Jim Burch, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives for the Police Foundation, and Lamar M. Gardere, Chief Information Officer for the City of New Orleans, joined us for the webinar.

The session touched on the initiative’s impact on law enforcement and the public safety community, and best practices to develop and use open data in public safety. Earlier this year, the White House announced the Police Data Initiative — a plan to partner with cities and technology firms to share public safety data. The initiative aims to strengthen relations between communities and their law enforcement agencies as well as improve police performance.

Let’s get down to some of my favorite moments from the webinar.

Jim Burch: The reason why we’re engaged in open data is because we believe that it has great potential to enhance transparency and trust, but also to support data-driven architectures within police agencies. As police agencies become more data-driven the use of open data both internally and externally to promote dialog with the community, we think can be very valuable.

We need to really redouble our efforts in building trust with our communities.

Socrata: Walk us through a little bit about what some of the activities are and some of the actions that are happening.

Burch: One of the most exciting things that I’ve seen happen as a result of the Police Data Initiative is the formation of a community of practice…

Socrata: So for the cities and counties that are out there, you know, getting started on this journey of data release, police data release, what are the most important things to consider and to know about?

Burch: Bottom line is citizens can see things that we often can’t see in our data, so it’s important to help give them access to it, and there’s evidence of that.

If you go out and you look at people that have used the law enforcement open data, they’ve found things that we haven’t found.  Some of them may not pan out but they’re all worth considering.

Certainly releasing open data promotes dialog between the agencies, the local government and the communities, and that’s an important thing I think we all agree with. It demonstrates transparency, which ultimately will help us earn the trust and the support of the community in addressing the problems that we see.

Socrata: What has been a big challenge for New Orleans using data?

Burch:it  is the entire process of cleaning that data, making sure that it’s high quality, analyzing it, creating a data supply chain to make sure that there are data stewards and data owners in place that will maintain the quality of that data.

And have it be updated through a portal hopefully in an autonomous way so that it’s refreshed on a regular basis and continues to be valuable to people. Sometimes maintaining that data supply chain in a consistent way can be one of your most challenging things. Fortunately for us the politics part was made relatively easy, so we just are working on technology now.

Tune in to the entire webinar to learn more about New Orleans’ approach to the Police Data Initiative.


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