Posted in Center News: Friday, May 11, 2018
by Patrick Love
CSoI PhD Student in Electrical Engineering Irene Fischer-Wang is part of a team receiving a Columbia University Magic Grant to build a pipeline for increased local accountability journalism. Fischer-Wang is on a team led by Cheryl Phillips of Stanford who, in 2014, began the Stanford Open Policing Project to create an open dataset on police traffic stops in 31 states. Fischer-Wang will be part of Phillips’s new team working on the next iteration of that project, along with Columbia journalist Jonathan Stray and Columbia Journalism and Computer science MS Student Erin Riglin.
The original Stanford Open Policing Project started by Phillips aggregated publicly available data on routine traffic stops in 31 states, resulting in a new way to statistically recognize patterns of discrimination. This project worked by uniting the data scattered across local jurisdictions into a larger dataset. Doing this made it easier for local journalists to get a long-view of traffic stops in their area and research what happened during those stops, increasing local accountability and showing the value of local reporting.
The new project Phillips, Fischer-Wang, Stray, and Riglin are working on is a way to collect, clean, archive and distribute data to journalists so they can use it to report local information1. More information for the public helps with policy decisions and improves public memory. In the realm of Information Science, work like this identifies clear signals in large amounts of data to help improve the world. In this case, Fischer-Wang’s work is helping people locally across many different places.