“…develop open source applications to open government. The goal is to solve as many open government problems as we can with as many hackathons across the country as possible.”
A group formed in the Philadelphia area, took the data from the New Jersey State Police 2007 Street Gang Survey, mashed it up with some mapping software and produced the New Jersey Gang Survey Viewer. The amount of work these guys did in two days is really incredible given the shape of the underlying data. It was fine for researchers and academics but not suitable at all for the general public.
The website is, hopefully, just a beginning and (if enough good hearted volunteers are found) more data from the survey (and previous surveys) will get incorporated into the project.
Not long ago, I mentioned on another site that the democratization of information and the ability of people to collaborate who (in the pre-internet days) would not even known of each others existence was one of the global issues which makes me feel optimistic. This was the type of work that I was thinking of when I wrote that.
Check out the work these guys did and then start asking your local and state law enforcement agencies why they don’t make information like this available to the public.
UPDATE: They’re looking for assistance to continue work on the project. If you’re interested (or know someone who is), contact Josh Tauberer.