Since the City of Detroit launched the Open Data Portal and GO DATA policy initiative in 2015, the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition (DDJC) and Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) have been exploring how to advance equitable practices for collecting, disseminating and using open data. By equitable practices, we mean accountable, ethical uses of public information for social good that actively resist the criminalization and surveillance of low income communities, people of color and other targeted communities.
To understand what these equitable open data practices could look like, we asked a broad spectrum of Detroit residents to consider the potential benefits and harms of various data sets currently available on the City's Open Data Portal. From there, we assessed what actions can be taken by the City to maximize benefits and minimize harms, and investigated open data policies and tools in place in other cities that model our vision for data justice.
The guidelines we offer below are the outcome of our research and outline how the City of Detroit’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and other stewards of public information, in Detroit and beyond, can adopt and implement equitable open data practices.
We expect our recommendations to prompt critical conversations and questions, guide feature enhancements to Detroit’s data portal and inform policy provisions to improve how institutions collect, disseminate and use open data. We’re also eager to share specific takeaways from our research and resources for adapting our strategies.