Beth Simone Noveck in Governing: Launching the Data Justice Network

Andrew Young — February 01, 2017

In her latest column for Governing, Network chair Beth Simone Noveck describes the GovLab’s newly launched Data Justice Network. The piece, written together with Batu Sayici, the GovLab’s director of user experience, makes the case for expert networking technologies to “potentially transform how justice practitioners gain and share knowledge.” As data-driven decision-making takes hold across governance sectors, including criminal justice, Noveck and Sayici argue that the ability to identify and consult with those possessing relevant data expertise can increase the chances of success for a criminal justice data project.

Noveck and Sayici provide background on the project:

“During President Obama’s administration, the White House championed a Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) initiative focused on helping state and local jurisdictions identify and make better use of their own and others’ data. But after investing in and focusing on collecting data, state and local governments are struggling to determine how to move from collection to responsible and effective use and analysis. In a 2012 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of criminal-justice professionals, only 39 percent reported even employing researchers on staff to evaluate performance, and the survey revealed wide disparities in the embrace of data-driven decision-making. More recently, in a Governance Lab survey of criminal-justice coordinating councils, 53 percent reported that they did some data analysis at the individual agency level, but a full 22 percent reported that they did no data analysis at all.

To help rectify this situation, the Justice Management Institute and the GovLab, in collaboration with the National Association of Counties, the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, Code for America and the Sunlight Foundation, have launched the Data Justice Network, a knowledge-exchange platform that aims to accelerate data-driven justice reforms by facilitating better collaboration among criminal-justice practitioners and policymakers.”

They go on to describe the goals and functionalities of the network:

“The platform, built with support from a grant by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, allows justice officials to find colleagues with relevant experience in working with data – ranging from high-level strategy, coordination, regulatory and legal compliance to working with vendors, analytics and reporting – as well as justice-specific experience in areas such as crime prevention, pretrial procedures, mental health treatment and recidivism reduction. Users can share their innovative projects to gain visibility and inspire others while learning from their peers about what works, what doesn’t and how to implement new programs.”

Read more here.