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Data for Democracy

Data for Democracy's mission is to be an inclusive community for data scientists and technologists to volunteer and collaborate on projects that make a positive impact on society.

Who runs D4D?

The community does! Anybody who wants to contribute to making D4D better is highly encouraged to do so! Everything in D4D thus far has come from grassroots ideas proposed and pushed forward by a community member just like you and there's always more room for improvement. Whether it's starting a new project or proposing a new tool for the community to use, don't hesitate to just go for it!

Getting Started

  • Read more about our our origin story.
  • We use Slack and GitHub as our primary means of organization and communication. Email team [at] datafordemocracy.org for an invite to the team.
  • Read about our current projects, get involved in your city, or check out how you can volunteer across the community.
  • If you see a project you are interested in, join the project Slack channel, introduce yourself to the community and the project lead(s).
  • Visit project readme for specific instructions on who to contact or how to get started.
  • Not sure which project you want to join? Introduce yourself in #general. Talk to a few project leads, let them know what you are interested in. Project leads can help you determine if a project is a good fit for you. The leads for each project are listed are listed below.
  • Have an idea for a new project? Join #project-ideas to start a discussion on a new project.
  • Looking for a certain type of task in any project? Check the task digest.
  • Not sure how to get started? Contact @gecky or @jonathon in the Slack, or check out the #onboarding channel, and we'll help you out. Also check out #micro-projects for quick projects that'll help you get your feet wet.
  • Want to pick up some skills before diving in? Check out the tutorials which are all relevant to D4D projects and chat about it in #learning.
  • Check out our data.world page at data.world/data4democracy, where data can be shared. See our guide to get started. Contact @sya or @gabriela in Slack with questions

Across the Community

While most of our work is project based, the community is large and vibrant enough that we're looking for common needs across projects that the organization can support. These are ongoing roles that can be time consuming, but are also essential to making the community helpful to our partners and a valuable experience for our volunteers.

Storytelling

All of our projects are doing some interesting data gathering and analysis that we regularly share with the world on our blog, our YouTube channel, and the Partially Derivative podcast (for example). If you'd like to help with this, ping @lillianj in Slack!

Infrastructure and IT administration

We're doing this on a per-project basis, along with building tools for data science collaboration, and always need help. Ping @aneel or @bstarling in Slack if you're up for helping out with this!

Matchmaker

The community has grown to a point where there is a lot of activity and a steady stream of new volunteers, which is awesome! We could use more people who know about the various projects that are happening along with the skills of the incoming volunteers, and can both match people to projects (ideally, to specific tasks), along with routinely surfacing new opportunities to the broader community for folks to get involved at all skill levels. Ping @gecky in Slack if this sounds like fun to you!

Project Leads

You've probably noticed that there are a few people in every active project keeping the group on track, taking questions, and helping new folks get settled in -- that's by design. Leading a project can be a big time commitment, but it's hugely valuable to making sure we're doing useful work, and volunteers are getting the most out of volunteering. You don't need to be super technical, just organized and enthusiastic! Ping @jonathon in Slack if you're interested in leading a project.

City groups

Data for Democracy volunteers are all over the world, and many cities have dedicated channels in Slack, and even regular in-person meetups to collaborate in person and work on data projects specific to their city or state. This is mostly US-based for now, but that's not on purpose, so feel free to spin up a group where you live! (We're looking at you London, Berlin, Warsaw, Bangalore, Sydney, and...). And of course, if you are in the US, there are probably at least a few D4D-ers where you live, so don't hesitate to start your own city group!

Austin

Channel: #city-austin Leads: @jonathon

Boulder

Channel: #city-boulder Leads: @sam

Chicago

Channel: #city-chicago Leads: @lillianj

DC

Channel: #city-dc Leads: @chris_dick, @redoakmark

Denver (meetup page)

Channel: #city-denver Leads: @chooliu, @gretchenriggs

Louisville

Channel: #city-louisville Leads: @eric_bickel, @rkahne, @margeaux, @dmattingly

Los Angeles

Channel: #city-losangeles Leads: @chelsea.ursaner, @adamdrake

New York (meetup page)

Channel: #city-nyc Leads: @bkey, @henripal, @danielah, @ckmarcelus

Seattle (meetup page)

Channel: #city-seattle Leads: @zachmueller, @grichardson, @jtorrez

San Diego

Channel: #city-sandiego Leads: @eric_bickel, @ryanes

There are dozens of city-specific channels in the Slack, so just search for "city-yourcity" (e.g. "city-austin") to find people near you!


Current projects

We have many projects going in our slack community. Below is a list of some of our more active projects that are actively seeking help.

Boston Crash Modeling

Project Description: This is an official collaboration between the City of Boston's Analytics Team and Data for Democracy. We want to build a crash prediction modeling application. This would combine things like our crowdsourced safety concerns dataset and crash reports with a wide range of other data from our own open data portal as well as from other sources like the state's transportation and transit agencies, weather conditions feeds, and traffic reports from sites like Google. The end result will be a set of dynamic predictions we can use to identify potential trouble spots and direct timely safety interventions--everything from protected bike lanes and better-marked crosswalks to new street lights and traffic light timings. We'll make this publicly-available to everyone through a hosted map application, and develop the project as an open source template that can be adapted for use by other cities.

Slack: #boston-crash-modeling

Project Leads: @therriault (City of Boston lead), @niccolley (Data for Democracy lead)


Drug Spending

Slack: #drug-spending
Project Description: Help the public understand what their tax dollars are going toward. Eg, what % of the eligible population (and/or all Americans) are benefiting from Medicare prescription drug coverage? How many Medicare enrollees are being treated for common/relatable conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer's, or depression? What proportion of Medicare prescription spending is on each of those conditions?

Project Leads: @jenniferthompson @mattgawarecki

Data: data.world/data4democracy/drug-spending


Election Transparency

Slack: #election-transparency

Project Description: Aggregating and normalizing county-level election results to be shared with the broader community. This team now has a fantastic dataset that's difficult to obtain. In addition to the ongoing data engineering effort, they could use help from statisticians, political scientists, and anyone ready to analyze this data.

Project Leads: @chris_dick, @scottcame, @rachelanddata

Data: data.world/data4democracy/election-transparency


Refugees

Project Description:
Grouping for projects related to refugees. Our main current project involves classifying, tagging, analyzing and visualizing news events relating to internally displaced people in an attempt to track internal refugee crises across the globe.

Slack: #refugees

Project Lead: @grichardson


ProPublica

Slack: #propublica

Project Description: Working on projects to support the non-profit investigative journalism publication, ProPublica. The team's first project is analyzing campaign spending data and have just started a web scraping/data engineering project around foreign travel expenditures.

Project Leads: @ryanes @eric_bickel

Data: data.world/data4democracy/propublica


USA Dashboard

Slack: #usa-dashboard

Project Description: A dashboard of key metrics for the USA. The team's first KPIs are around city-level crime data.

Project Leads: @sjt


Immigration Connect

Project Description: Collecting, analyzing, and modeling data related to immigration. We're also building tools (visualizations, email parsers, matching algorithms to connect to connect pro bono lawyers with immigrants in need) to support the work of organizations working on immigration law and other immigration related issues.

Slack: #immigration-connect

Project Leads: @tylerjrichards @jtorrez @chavan


Indivisible

Slack: #indivisible

Project Description: A variety of civic activism organizations have sprung up in the wake of the election to help mobilize and empower people. The organizations often operate by sending out daily or weekly “actions” that their supporters partake in – whether calling a Member of Congress’s office, attending an event, or reading a key piece of information. This project we will build tools to

  • Identify various actions available for users by aggregating different sources of data
  • Provide a clean user interface to filter and select actions they are interested in
  • Build a dashboard and track action progress/effectiveness over time
  • Engage user interest through social media or similar means to identify tasks for more effective actions

We need software and web developers

Project Leads: @pg @bonfiam


Quorum

Slack: #p-quorum

Project Description: Quorum is a data for democracy community working to build tools and infrastructure to enable the study of online communities and their characteristics. Our goal is to build a toolkit which takes care of common tasks so researchers do not have to reinvent the wheel with each new project.


Task digest

If you're looking for a certain type of task (e.g. beginner-friendly) to lead you to a project, try checking the links below:

  • analysis: Analysis questions, ranging from basic, exploratory questions to more complex questions.
  • beginner-friendly: Good for people new to the project or technology stack used by the project. If you are experienced we encourage you not to claim these issues but instead post in comments offering to mentor a new person.
  • bug: Bug report.
  • data-collection: Data collection task.
  • data-viz: Data visualization task.
  • discussion: Indicates this issue is a public discussion but may not necessarily have a specific task associated to it.
  • documentation: Request for help with documentation.
  • enhancement
  • first-pr: For first timers only. Issues with this label are meant to be a digestible to help people get up to speed with cloning the repository, making a change and creating a pull request. Please do not claim this issue unless it is your first pull request for this project.
  • help wanted: Catch all label soliciting for help.
  • modeling: Data modeling, machine learning task.
  • proposal
  • question
  • status-blocked: Not ready for development.
  • status-dev-ready: Development task that is fully defined and ready to start.
  • status-in-progress: Someone is actively working on this issue. Please reach out to the person assigned this issue if you would like to contribute.
  • status-needs-grooming: Issue is not fully defined. Either the person who opened the issue is not sure how to proceed or did not have time to complete. Indicates further research will be required to determine best path forward.
  • storytelling: Need help crafting a story. Writing assignment.

Project Ideas

If you have an idea for a project or are looking to start a new one, check out the #project-ideas channel in Slack, and also the project-ideas repo in this organisation.

You can check here for projects that are looking for help and here for projects that are looking for leads.