Happy new year! We're about halfway through our first grant period, and some of the seeds we've been planting are starting to sprout.
We published a new form for requesting data. If you have a question about your local police system, give it a try. We have been informally connecting our staff and volunteers with projects in need of data assistance, doing work like locating records and contributing data analysis code. Now, we'll track these requests in a database and try to fulfill as many as we can. Your project could be next!
If you're in Discord and you gave yourself a role in the #welcome channel, you'll start getting pinged as we get more requests. If you'd like to be notified when we need help with scraping, or to find data in your area, reply to this email.
To request records from your local sheriff or town hall, you might start by sending an email or making a phone call. It can take a lot of phone tag to find out where to send your request, especially from small agencies, so you'll be a lot closer if you already know who to contact.
Let's compare how easy it is to find records request contact information by comparing sources in Pennsylvania and Louisiana. In Pennsylvania, we have a direct source. It's easily exported and updated daily. In Louisiana, our only source of contact info was painstakingly compiled by a researcher, mostly through phone calls to municipal officials and town attorneys.
We're helping make the most of that researcher's hard work by linking to it from our Data Sources database. If someone in Louisiana needs to make a records request, their work could now be a little easier.
This is just one small example. We think there are over a million data sources hidden in plain sight on the internet, and trying to find useful information makes a person think of needles and haystacks. If this work is important to you, please consider supporting us here.
That’s all for now. If you have questions or comments, reply to this email or find us in Discord!