DataSourceNJ Announces Plans for the NJ Data Repository

“A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.”
— James Madison

The Challenge

Bring Big Data Benefits to Local Investigative Journalism

U.S. Democracy requires robust non-partisan journalism holding government accountable. The advent of Big Data, nonetheless, has been of great harm to journalism, especially its local investigative activity. Big Data is data of greater variety, volume and velocity. To date, Big Data’s tremendous wealth creation has been concentrated within a small group of American companies and at the expense of less equipped, yet critical, business sectors (e.g., journalism, retail). Consequently, these sectors have rapidly declined. With an emphasis on local data journalism, DataSourceNJ Inc., a New Jersey 501c3 nonprofit organization, responds by pursuing the equitable distribution of Big Data’s benefits to New Jersey’s communities initially and the nation’s communities ultimately.

What We Do

Combine Big Data & Issues Expertise to Produce Insights

DataSourceNJ combines publicly available data, software technologies, data science, and issues expertise to produce important insights into local government performance and community conditions for journalists and other core constituencies (e.g., academicians, government staff, businesspeople, activists, and the general public) to use. To that end, DataSourceNJ will assemble working groups of experts targeting critical issues (e.g.,  electoral, health, policing, housing). Moreover, in an alliance with the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Ying Wu College of Computer Science, DataSourceNJ has begun development of the NJ Data Repository, a database integrating New Jersey’s many data sets to simplify search, analysis, and presentation.

Why We Do It

Strengthen Our Democracy

U.S. thought leaders have sounded the alarm that the decline of local journalism is threatening our democracy. Leading U.S. universities and research institutions have linked the decline of local journalism to poor government performance, citizen disengagement, and more polarized and unhealthy communities. DataSourceNJ will handle the time-consuming and expensive work of capturing, analyzing, and presenting insights gleaned from significant amounts of data covering all New Jersey communities. In so doing, local journalists will find the writing of compelling investigative journalism to be viable, thereby holding local governments and politicians accountable to their citizenry. Perhaps, most importantly, communities will have an incontrovertible set of facts with which to find solutions to local challenges.