Like many large departments, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) makes data about its law enforcement activities public on the Dallas OpenData website. This is an important step toward transparency, but it is only the first step. DPD should make it easier for the public to use and access the data, and publish better data.Check out the DPD Open Data Portal
We all have questions about what's going on around us, but only certain questions lend themselves to being answered with data. When it comes to data, the key questions usually involve a where, what, when, how often, and how much. Asking "why?" of data can be very difficult because it's rarely clear and unambiguous. We'll talk about the challenge of asking good questions of the data and give you the chance to practice this important skill as we work through the data.
Just because data is freely available doesn't mean it's easy to access. We will show you how to navigate the City of Dallas Open Data Portal, as well as other data sources, to find the dataset you're interested in, filter for just the data you need, and download the data in a usable format to work with. We'll talk about some of the issues with the data so you're better able to make sense of the available data to answer your own questions.
Working with data is often a far simpler task than most people realize. There are basic approaches no matter how big or small your dataset to describe the basic features of your data (minimum, maximum, start, and end dates) and identify meaningful trends (patterns over time and correlations). Using Google Sheets, a freely available web application for working with data, we will explore these basic tasks to help you clean, sort, filter, aggregate, and visualize data on policing in Dallas. These skills will be applicable no matter what data you are using or what kinds of questions you are researching.
Good analysis wants to be shared with others, but it's important to remember that no one will be as familiar with your findings as you. We need to keep in mind our audience as we tell a true and compelling story that incorporates both the data and the larger context in which the data exists. We will talk about what makes for a good visualization and how to communicate with a diverse audience in a clear and meaningful way, giving you a chance to practice this important skill with your own projects related to policing in Dallas.
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