10 Bits: The Data News Hot List
This week’s list of data news highlights covers November 2-8 and includes articles on audio-based gunshot detection and a data initiative to monitor rugby players’ health.
Washington D.C.’s ShotSpotter gunshot detection system has documented 39,000 shooting incidents in the District since it was adopted in 2006. An analysis released this week explores the technology behind the audio-based detection system and maps the areas with the greatest levels of gunshot activity since 2009. Although the police department does not track arrests made as a result of ShotSpotter’s alerts, city officials maintain that the system is a valuable law enforcement tool, and the city spent $3.5 million over the past six years to maintain and expand the program.
The UK Rugby Union is working with IBM on an initiative that will use analytics to monitor and address players’ health needs. Starting with comprehensive heart rate monitoring, the initiative’s organizers hope to expand to predicting illnesses and even stress fractures. Eventually, clubs hope to better protect their player investments and improve team performance.
A team of data scientists who worked on the 2012 Obama for America campaign launched a startup this week to offer their methodologies to nonprofits and smaller progressive campaigns. The company, BlueLabs, already has customers in the Human Rights Campaign and the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers. BlueLabs will offer data integration expertise, analytics consulting and audience targeting.
NASA reported this week that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a satellite craft that has orbited the Red Planet since 2006, has transmitted over 200 terabits of data since its mission began. The MRO’s data exceeds the total collected by all other Jet Propulsion Laboratory missions over the last 10 years. The data is collected by several experiments onboard the craft, including cameras, spectrometers and weather sensors.
The Foundation Center, a global philanthropy think tank, launched its Foundation Stats data visualization and exploration tool this week, which allows users to generate charts and reports from its large database of foundations and grants. The Center also released an application programming interface (API) to support independent development using the data. Researchers and journalists, as well as professionals in the philanthropic community, will use Foundation Stats to identify trends in grantmaking and track foundation behavior.
More disciplined collection and analysis of Internet traffic data can make the Internet a safer place. If security researchers expand their data collection efforts to include diverse geographic areas, protocols and industries, they can begin to automate the models that help them detect suspicious malware and hacking activity. IT security experts will increasingly need to use data science techniques to identify new cyberattacks as they occur and recommend remedies.
Australian company Synaptor hopes to help mining companies use data to reduce accidents at their sites. Occupational illness and injuries cost the country around $60 billion in 2008, and Synaptor’s founder believes his company’s real-time safety analysis capabilities, which can integrate training records and shift data, will reduce costs and accidents alike. In the future, he hopes to explore additional data sources that may have a bearing on safety, such as weather data.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee amended S. 994, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act), this week. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), aims to standardize federal spending data and make it available online, which would support analytics to investigate waste and fraud. The amended version removes an accountability provision that would have allowed government inspectors to audit a broader range of federal spending documents. The House faces an un-amended version of the bill, which was referred by committee in May.
The Indian government is working with business consulting firm Infosys to deploy analytics to improve tax revenue collection. An Infosys representative explained how the nation can use data to identify potential tax evasion cases. Infosys hopes such a system will help the Indian government raise tax revenues from nine percent of GDP to 18 percent.
New York City’s open data ecosystem is booming, thanks in part to the city’s interactions with third party developers who build apps using its open data. New York’s open data offerings are considerable and increasing, due to a 2012 law that requires the release of all the city’s public data by December 2018. From public safety to public health to real estate, the city’s data can increasingly help app developers and city agencies improve municipal outcomes.
Photo: Flickr / Stewart Baird