Data & the Future of Cities

In 2012 EMC made a generous contribution to Code for America, in a joint effort to take advantage of the promise of big data for local governments. They sponsored a data science Fellow, Matt Hampel, who during his Fellowship created LocalData as a member of the Detroit team; now he and his teammates are building their own civic startup, Amplify Labs. Code for America and EMC also partnered on a Big Data for the Public Good series, which over the course of four seminars at our headquarters presented an opportunity for leading data science thinkers, innovators, and practitioners to explore how the field can serve the public interest.

We are excited to announce that this year EMC, through their new company Pivotal, has generously renewed their support of Code for America, with a continued focus on promoting the use of big data for civic change. This ongoing partnership is a testament to the growing importance of harnessing data to help cities work better.

Using criminal justice data to improve outcomes

The 2013 Pivotal Data Science Fellow is Ezra Spier, who along with New York City team members CJ Bryan and Doneliza Joaquin is building technology that uses data to make New York City’s criminal justice system more fair and more efficient.

Ezra is a web and mobile software developer from Portland, Ore. who was previously the director of technology solutions at Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers. At Sustainable Harvest, he built applications to track and analyze realtime supply chain data. He also envisioned and built an analytics platform for social impact metrics collected in partnership with coffee farms in Peru, Mexico, and Tanzania.

As a Code for America fellow this year, Ezra and his team are finding ways to improve and share the data that the City is already collecting. Ezra is conducting analytics on real-time data related to arrest and court proceedings, finding opportunities to share, analyze, and explain the data to the public, and helping solve recurring city problems by encouraging data analysis in the city’s business processes.

Code for America’s primary sponsor in the city is New York City’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, which in January released New York City’s first Criminal Justice Indicator Report. New York City is a pioneer in open data, and is actively releasing datasets on its open data portal. Ezra and his team are also working with the Arnold Foundation, who has been implementing data-driven decision-making tools in criminal justice systems around the country and is helping fund this project.

One of the challenges working on a criminal justice project is that the stakeholders work for many different jurisdictions. In New York City, police, probation, and the corrections belong to the city government; district attorneys are elected independently by borough; courts belong to the state; and a number of nonprofits and community-based organizations work across the entire system. The New York City Fellowship team has been working with stakeholders and data from all of these agencies to build applications that will make cross-agency collaboration and data analysis easier.

Use Your Powers for Good (apply by July 31)

We need more data scientists like Ezra to join our Fellowship. We’ve got exciting partnerships for 2014 taking shape with cities all over country, addressing a range of important civic issues. If you’re a data scientist with the drive to do good, we’re looking for you. Join Code for America and Pivotal in our commitment to using data to solve public challenges by applying to be a 2014 Code for America Fellow.

Cities are under greater pressure than ever, struggling with budget cuts and outdated technology. And city governments have a lot of data, but aren’t always using it effectively. As a Fellow, you’d have the opportunity to work with subject matter experts, put huge public data sets to use, and help improve the way that government analyzes and shares data.

Applications are being accepted until tomorrow, July 31, 2013. This is an 11-month, full-time fellowship located in San Francisco. See for more information.

Apply online here by Wednesday.

Thank you again, EMC & Pivotal, for your ongoing support of this initiative!

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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