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DOJ tests new data-gathering method to more accurately count deaths in police custody


In March of 2015, an official assessment of the Department of Justice statistical program that reports “arrest-related deaths” — a program that has been in place since 2003 — found that the program identified only between 59 and 69 percent of the estimated actual total of fatal interactions with police in 2011.

  • Arrest-Related Deaths Program Assessment: Technical Repor by Duren Banks, et al., RTI International, (NCJ 248543) March 2015.

    This variability in approach [to collection of data on deaths that occur during the process of arrest in the United States] has led to questions about whether these data collection methods were capable of capturing the universe of arrest-related deaths and law enforcement homicides in particular. BJS requested RTI International to conduct an assess ment of the ARD program.

A new program is being tested that would gather data from public sources such as online news. This crowdsourcing and fact-checking data-gathering is an attempt to redesign the existing DOJ program.

  • Number of Deaths in Police Custody Higher than Media Reports: DOJ Data, By Aliya Sternstein NextGov (January 14, 2016).

    This spring, Justice Department-funded data scientists will present findings from a pilot project that, in essence, crowdsources facts on police homicides. So far, the number of possible deaths during and after police pursuit is far higher than the figures tabulated by both journalists and activists appalled by the longtime paucity of data on excessive use-of-force.

    The project is part of a new project by the Bureau of Justice Statistics focused on capturing an official record of the whole “universe” of law enforcement homicides. The agency has assigned part of a new task to an artificial intelligence tool that crawls online news for the most relevant, potential cases of civilians dying during arrests. Soon, bureau data analysts will compare the reports to local agency records.

Video of the sun marks 5th year anniversary of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

curly loop solar flare
curly loop solar flare
This is just too beautiful not to share. NASA marks the 5-year anniversary of their Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) with this video showing amazingly pulsing mass explosions, solar flares, sunspots, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and the like. SDO provides 13 full-sun images every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s 2,600 terabytes of data! For more, see the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

In honor of SDO’s fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.

via GMM: SDO: Year 5 (id 11742).

Your chance to tell White House your thoughts on big data, privacy and surveillance

Here’s an opportunity to let the White House know your opinions on data gathering, transforming technologies and privacy issues.


From: The White House [info@messages.whitehouse.gov]

Sent: Friday, March 21, 2014 2:00 PM

Subject: The President’s review of big data and privacy


Friday, March 21, 2014

The President’s review of big data and privacy

In January, President Obama spoke about changes in the technology we use for national security purposes, and what they mean for our privacy broadly.

He launched a 90-day review of big data and privacy: how they affect the way we live, and the way we work — and how data is being used by universities, the private sector, and the government.

As part of that review, we’ve already heard from leading privacy advocates and industry leaders, among others.

But this is a conversation that affects all Americans, and we want to make sure you have a chance to be a part of it. We want your input.

Take a moment to tell us what you think about big data, privacy, and what it means to you. Visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/technology/big-data-review to voice your opinions


PLEASE. Take a moment to take the survey and (respectfully) tell the President that if there’s no probable cause you’re involved with a crime, your data should be off limits. It would probably be good to also provide input on the question “what technologies have transformed your life” and note the role of net neutrality in making it possible.

New NAP report: Frontiers in Massive Data Analysis

Hot off the presses from the National Academies is this prepublication version of a report Frontiers in Massive Data Analysis. This is a really nice survey of much of the state of the art and current issues involved in “big data.” Govt information librarians owe it to themselves to become well-versed as more and more researchers across many disciplines will become interested in govt information as a corpus to do larger analysis (I’m already getting questions about corpus research!).

From Facebook to Google searches to bookmarking a webpage in our browsers, today’s society has become one with an enormous amount of data. Some internet-based companies such as Yahoo! are even storing exabytes (10 to the 18 bytes) of data. Like these companies and the rest of the world, scientific communities are also generating large amounts of data-—mostly terabytes and in some cases near petabytes—from experiments, observations, and numerical simulation. However, the scientific community, along with defense enterprise, has been a leader in generating and using large data sets for many years. The issue that arises with this new type of large data is how to handle it—this includes sharing the data, enabling data security, working with different data formats and structures, dealing with the highly distributed data sources, and more.

Frontiers in Massive Data Analysis presents the Committee on the Analysis of Massive Data’s work to make sense of the current state of data analysis for mining of massive sets of data, to identify gaps in the current practice and to develop methods to fill these gaps. The committee thus examines the frontiers of research that is enabling the analysis of massive data which includes data representation and methods for including humans in the data-analysis loop. The report includes the committee’s recommendations, details concerning types of data that build into massive data, and information on the seven computational giants of massive data analysis.