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Continued: Powerful new tool in Minneapolis creates virtual city

  • Article by: ERIC ROPER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 20, 2013 - 10:19 AM

Doll said they made a decision not to allow personally identifiable information into the system, a line he acknowledges is “murky.” Named data and Social Security numbers are off limits, he says, but addresses are generally not. They may strip identifiable features out of data sets using a key only some people could decipher. His office will review all requests to add data.

“Information is power,” said Rich Neumeister, an open government expert. “And the public needs to know when their public resources are being used to make the government even more powerful ... with the use of analytics, intelligence gathering, intelligence analysis.”

Chuck Samuelson, executive director of the Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said being able to drill down information allows governments to see and act on things that were not otherwise apparent. “But when they’re wrong, they’re spectacularly wrong,” Samuelson said. “People go to jail when they shouldn’t be in jail. Or people get investigated when they shouldn’t be investigated.”

Doll said the system will initially rely on existing city data sets, but may eventually include county, state or federal data.

Just how that will play out in the police department remains to be seen. Rugel said, “Someday I want 6,000 more data fields in there. Because you can never have too much to search.”

Later, he added, “I think someday that would be a benefit if you could say, ‘Well, we’ve had some burglaries. Who in this area has a history of burglary arrests?’ ”


Eric Roper • 612-673-1732

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    Some potential applications of Minneapolis’ IBM partnership, as outlined in a City Council presentation:

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