Turning predictive analytics on police officers; an Uber détente; and more.
White House Presidential Innovation Fellow Denice Ross blogs on Medium about an amazing moment she witnessed during a three-day coding event where the New Orleans Police Department and the city’s office of information technology and innovation released a preview of four city databases for a group of teenage coders and their mentors to build apps with. The event was part of the administration’s Police Data Initiative which is working with 24 jurisdictions around the country to encourage better use of data to build community trust and reduce police violence.
As part of that initiative, data scientists are looking at how police departments can better use predictive analytics to figure out which of their officers may be more likely to overreact violently during stressful situations, Larry Greenemeier reports for Scientific American.
Reviewing data scientist Cathy O’Neil’s provocative talk at Personal Democracy Forum this past June on “Weapons of Math Destruction,” political scientist and Civicist contributing editor Dave Karpf gently pushes back against her fear that political micro-targeting is bad for democracy. The tl/dr version: he’s not very worried about it because campaigns have always targeted voters, now they’re getting a bit more efficient at it, and most potential abuses are likely to be caught before they do serious harm.
Wesley Lowery and David Weigel of the Washington Post report on “Why Hillary Clinton and her rivals are struggling to grasp Black Lives Matter.” They write: “The strained interactions demonstrate the extent to which a vibrant new force on the left has disrupted traditional presidential politics, creating challenges for Democratic candidates who are facing intense pressure to put police brutality and other race-related issues on the front burner ahead of the 2016 election.”
Today’s must-read: David Callahan of InsidePhilanthropy.com, who asks: “Is too much funding going to social entrepreneurs–and too little to social movements?”
Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo added his voice to the Uber-NYC debate, calling for a delay in the city council vote on capping the growth of car-for-hire services. “Uber is one of these great inventions, startups, of this new economy and it’s taking off like fire to dry grass and it’s giving people jobs,” Cuomo said in a radio interview. “I don’t think the government should be in the business of restricting job growth.”
Later in the day, the two sides came to an agreement: the de Blasio administration is abandoning its push for the Uber cap, and in exchange the company is giving the city a “trove” of internal data that it had been seeking for its congestion study, Matt Flegenheimer reports for the New York Times. Both sides are also stopping their war of words.
Related: Matt Stempeck has been tracking how corporations and tech companies in particular with big online platforms have used that leverage in political fights, and in this new piece for Civicist he reports on how “Uber Pushes Corporative Activism in the Digital Age to the Next Level,” raising important questions like “In which instances do we applaud corporate intervention by user interface, and in which do we decry it? How aggressive a campaign should a publicly traded company present to its users? Are there legal limits to corporate-driven free speech?”
Now this would be a Smart City: As hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers struggle to obtain or keep food stamp benefits, baffled by complex filing requirements, City Councilman Ben Kallos (and PDM friend) has introduced legislation that would require city agencies to send people pre-filled applications for the benefits that they are entitled to, Winnie Hu reports for the New York Times. He is also pressing for changes that would “eventually allow city residents to receive food stamps automatically based on tax filings.”
Avaaz, the international e-organizing behemoth, is facing a technology crisis. According to an email sent by its director, Ricken Patel, its tech backbone “is buckling” under the strain of communicating with 42 million members, leading to “5 site-wide outages in 4 months.” And so they are raising money to hire a new tech team to rebuild its systems from scratch.
MySociety shares a map of all the countries around the world where their open-source code is being used.
The AFL-CIO is looking to hire a digital campaigns and strategy manager.