How can civic data be leveraged and configured towards advancing equity throughout communities in California? What civic issues have been ignored by existing data practices, and why? In what ways might civic data be abused or misused to surveil communities or misrepresent problems facing Californians?
The Hack for California Research Cluster provides a space for civically-minded data scientists, social scientists, and humanists to collaborate in critically examining CA’s open data program. We convene weekly to identify pressing issues throughout the state and examine the availability and quality of civic data resources for evaluating their impact on communities. We interview and co-design with relevant stakeholders to produce maps, dashboards, and/or other tools that help to translate the nature of the problems, legitimate their stakes and urgency, while constantly assessing the risks such data aggregations pose to those represented by the numbers. In the process, we consider issues that are not addressed through civic data, the socio-political forces that have shaped these knowledge gaps, and their potential impacts. Finally, we consider the discursive risks of making data publicly available and how we might subvert them with critical data design.
This Research Cluster is organized by Professor Lindsay Poirier in the Department of Science and Technology Studies. Participation is open to graduates, undergraduates, faculty, post-docs, and staff at UC Davis seeking to engage in research and advocacy around civic issues facing California and learn about civic data. The success of this program is dependent on convening a diverse array of skills, including: legislative research, project management, interviewing, writing, user interface design, data analysis and visualization, and coding.