Lucy Parsons Labs is proud to be a founding member of the Chicago Data Collaborative, a new cooperative effort by newsrooms, academics, and nonprofit researchers to understand the criminal system in Cook County. Lucy Parsons Labs—along with DataMade, Injustice Watch, the Invisible Institute, Chicago Appleseed, the Adler Institute on Social Exclusion, and City Tech Collaborative—joins a community committed to using information to catalyze change.
Chicago has a complicated relationship with data. From its “open grid” initiative to its massive network of surveillance cameras and its controversial bid to lure a certain big-data giant, Chicago is rich in data but poor in accountability. Traditional “big data” will not address the city’s problems of racial and economic justice. Its well-known culture of corruption, abuse, and secrecy is so widespread that it can only be understood systematically by piecing together data from different sources. Often, journalists and activists have to fight for this information in the courts. To make matters more complicated, many institutions participate in the the criminal system in overlapping ways: courts, police, prosecutors, and others. The Chicago Data Collaborative will encourage and simplify research and accountability by providing a common pool of data shared between organizations that might otherwise compete or be unaware of similar efforts. We hope that the Chicago Data Collaborative will create a holistic view of the entire system in Cook County.
A 2016 grant from the McCormick Foundation provided funding. The creation of the Chicago Data Collaborative was announced on January 23, 2018. It will regularly add datasets on criminal justice in Chicago and Illinois and seek new partners and members.
(Image credit: Rachel Clarke.)