From Fall 2019 to Spring 2021, the UC Davis Hack for California Research Cluster provided a space for civically-minded data scientists, social scientists, and humanists to collaborate in critically examining how open government data can be configured towards understanding social and environmental inequities. Hosted by the UC Davis DataLab, we convened weekly to identify pressing issues throughout the state of California and examine the availability and quality of open government data resources for evaluating their impact on communities. We interviewed and co-designed 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 considered issues that are not addressed through open government data, the socio-political forces that have shaped these knowledge gaps, and their potential impacts. Finally, we considered the discursive risks of making data publicly available and how we might subvert them with critical data design. 


Carceral EJ Mapper

The Carceral EJ Mapper is a tool for examining the proximity of carceral facilities in the United States to various environmental hazards. Within the context of a US state, users may apply filter conditions to determine which carceral facilities have at least a certain number of superfund sites, airports, military bases, and TRI facilities within a given proximity to the facility. The tool is useful for identifying carceral facilities and incarcerated people on the frontlines of environmental injustice in the US.

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California General Plan Database Mapping Tool

Each city and county in California is required to produce a General Plan, a document that outlines and commits local governments to long-term development goals. This project is developing a platform for readily querying and extracting snippets of information about issues such as planned housing across all General Plans. Currently, there are no states that have such a public database for querying General Plans state-wide. 

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Carceral OSHA Data Analysis

Incarcerated people are on the frontlines of environmental injustice. The goal of the Carceral OSHA Data project is to use data from OSHA to examine toxicity or hazard in carceral facilities for inmates and those working within the facilities. Specifically the project is examining both OSHA violations and penalties in CA prisons from 2010 to 2019.

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CA Affordable Housing Tracker screenshot

CA Affordable Housing Tracker

In California, cities are required to list how they plan to address affordable housing in their General Plans. To date there has been no systematic way to compare their blueprint in the Plans to what they actually produce. This project is developing an interactive Shiny application that will allow users to visualize affordable housing needs and implementation across the state.

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