“New York City has long been at the forefront of using data and technology to direct public resources more effectively and deliver services more efficiently. We are proud to partner with Code for America and the Arnold Foundation to announce the next chapter in this effort – a new project to bring new reliable real-time information to our courtrooms to help ensure judgments are well-informed and justice is swift.”
- John Feinblatt, Chief Policy Advisor to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York City is a hotbed for civic innovation. From creating the Nation’s first municipal data catalogue, to 311, to a groundbreaking open data law at all levels of the community and government are driving positive change.
With the passing of NYC’s Open Data Law, all city-owned public data resources are being centralized into one data store with complimentary wiki outlining publicly agreed to standards. In addition to this legislation, the City has a Chief Information and Innovation Officer overseeing the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, a Chief Analytics Officer overseeing city-wide data insights and open data-related contracts, and a Chief Digital Officer overseeing relationships with the NYC tech community.
The city’s civic hacker community is just as diverse. #betaNYC, a Code for America Brigade, is the Nation’s largest civic hacker community and is extremely active“. Since 2009, the group has been working with city and state officials to ensure better public services and apps see the light of day. The group has supported NYC BigApps, introduced the Chief Digital Officer to the Tech community, and has developed a community practice of building safe spaces for civic hacking. As inaugural members of the New York City Transparency Working Group, #betaNYC helped pass Local Law 11 of 2012 and has continued to advocate for data liberation. For more on how you can get involved visit the #betaNYC Meetup Page for details.
Team New York’s Criminal Justice Spotlight at the Code for America Summit
In 2013, The City of New York partnered with Code for America to enlist a team of fellows to build technology to address criminal justice issues. The fellowship was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Support and funding were provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Blue Ridge Foundation.
NYC fellows CJ Bryan, Doneliza Joaquin, and Ezra Spier quickly learned about the complex matrix of criminal justice stakeholders at the state, city, and borough levels. With the help of their city contact Jordan Dressler, General Counsel at the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator, the fellows met with stakeholders in all five boroughs in their office and in the courtrooms – from NYPD staff, district attorneys, and judges to defense attorneys, court staff, and nonprofits and advocacy organizations.
As part of their residency, the fellows met with Alternative to Incarceration providers that are contracted with the city to provide eligible criminal defendants an opportunity to avoid jail or prison through participation in community-based social services programs directed at their specific needs.
To find defendants who are eligible for a specific program, ATI staff currently must go from courtroom to courtroom to review paper versions of packets of criminal complaints, rap sheets, court calendars, as well as field referral calls and emails from judges, prosecutors , and defense attorneys. Only after a staff member has identified eligible candidates can he or she interview them to determine if they are a good fit for the program. This time-consuming process can lead to missed opportunities to connect eligible candidates with the services they need.
In response, the CfA team built Criminal Case Search, a web application that enables ATI program staff to run customized real-time searches of criminal case information like defendant demographics, criminal history, charge data, and court scheduling information. With Criminal Case Search, ATI program staff can identify and locate program-eligible candidates for the first time from their offices or via their mobile devices. Leveraging the data on the City’s Datashare platform, the filtering tool sifts through the data remotely according to user-defined criteria, producing easy-to-read lists of eligible program candidates and allowing program personnel more time to speak with and match candidates to their programs.
The fellowship team also attended and participated in a number of civic tech events, including Code Across America, #betaNYC meetups and hack nights, DataKind meetups, Civic Service Forum, and the New York Tech Meetup.
New York City has today announced a new partnership with Code for America (CfA), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping governments become more connected, to bring real-time information to courtrooms and help the NYC Criminal Justice Commission in developing methods of data driven decision-making.