data

www.detroitmi.gov/detroitdashboard / City of Detroit

The City of Detroit's website has launched a new performance measurement feature. 

The Detroit Dashboard tracks the progress and outcome of improvements across the city.

The data is gathered from various city departments such as the Lighting Authority or EMS. Each colored section of the infographic on the side of the page is a clickable link to a department's website or information page. 

Attention civic-minded techies: Detroit needs your help.

That’s the message organizers are putting out ahead of the National Day of Civic Hacking on Saturday.

a2datadive.org / A2DataDive

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

When it comes to data and knowing just what to do with it, it seems there are two camps in this world. 

Those who can plunge into mining, parsing, analyzing and figuring out how to really use data, and those who are fairly clueless when it comes to crunching data.
 
Luckily for some non-profit groups in the Ann Arbor/ Detroit area, those types aren’t just smart, they are nice, and willing to help.
 
Thanks to some hard-working grad students at the U-M School of Information. The A2 Data Dive is coming up this weekend on the Central Campus of the University of Michigan.
 
Co-founders, Claire Barco and  Nikki Roda tell us more about the A2 Data Dive.

The non-profit group Data Driven Detroit has released its own map suggesting how to divide the city into districts.

Detroit voters have chosen to elect seven of nine City Council members by district, rather than the present "at-large" system.

The City Planning Commission gave the Council four possible maps to consider.

But the non-profit group Data Driven Detroit has reviewed the data, and produced its own plan—one they’re calling “Option 5.”

Photo by Lindsey Smith

Grand Rapids, Adrian and Ann Arbor are taking part in a tree study that could help other Michigan cities assess their own urban forests. The goal is to make a tree assessment more accurate and affordable for cities.

Grand Rapids spent tens of thousands of dollars to find more information about the city’s trees. They came away with valuable information like how much greenhouse gases and water runoff the trees absorb. But city owned trees make up only a tiny portion of the overall urban forest in Grand Rapids.

Tyler Stevenson is the city forester. He says they discovered more than half of Grand Rapids’ trees are maples.

“Is that true for the entire community? We don’t know. And it’d be interesting information and it would also help to increase the awareness of the public on how valuable the trees on their property are.”

Federal officials will use the data from the study to enhance existing software. Other communities in Michigan will be able to use that software for free to calculate data about their own trees.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State Police officials told a legislative committee that devices designed to pull data from cell phones are only used to investigate the most-serious crimes and are not part of routine traffic stops.

State Police officials say the data extraction devices are rarely used – and never without a search warrant or the consent of a phone’s owner.

State Police Inspector Greg Zarotney says the devices are used when certain crimes are committed:

"Typically, and I would say overwhelmingly, they are used in high-level crimes to investigate child exploitation, homicide cases, high-level drug cases, those types of situations where we’ve obtained the cell phone either through a search warrant or their consent, and we’re doing some type of data extraction to build our case,” sais Zarotney.

But State Police officials do not know how often the devices have been used.

Representative Tom McMillan chairs the House Oversight Committee, and he says the possibilities created by new technology also pose new challenges to privacy.

"As technology evolves, we may need to think about how to assure the public of a negative – what we’re not doing," said McMillan, "I don’t know what that’s going to look like, how possible it is, but I do think that we ought to broach that and start looking at that."

McMillan might hold future hearings on electronic privacy and protecting people against overly intrusive searches of phones and personal organizers.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is worried state police may be extracting personal data from cell phones illegally; a concern state police say is unfounded.

The Michigan State Police came under criticism for attempting to charge the American Civil Liberties Union hundreds of thousands of dollars for access to records on how the devices are used.

Zarotney says that’s because authorities don’t keep specific records on the devices, and gathering the information would have required inspecting thousands of police reports.