Public Data Works is an engineering and design studio. We build tools that help make data useful to the public.

As part of a collaboration between the research team at Northwestern University's Neighborhood & Network Initiative and the journalism team at the Invisible Institute, PDW helped design a new investigative methodology and build interactive tools for exploring networks of police officers who were repeatedly co-accused of misconduct.

  • Participatory human-centric design and research

  • Software engineering and web app development

  • Scalable data processing and pipeline engineering

  • Investigative data science and interactive visualization

We are working together with the Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO) to build a statewide database of police officers, police misconduct investigations, use of force, and related news is available to the public now. We are also publishing the data processing scripts and useful underlying technologies datamatch and datavalid as open-source projects on GitHub.Building upon LLEAD, we are collaborating with Tarak Shah (HRDAG) on an investigation into patterns correlated with known wrongful convictions from IPNO’s case files, using a combination of text and structured information extracted from several new types of documents related to police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct.

The Citizens Police Data Project ( is a tool for holding police accountable to the public they serve.Citizens Police Data Project (CPDP) takes records of police interactions with the public – records that would otherwise be buried in internal databases – and opens them up to make the data useful to the public, creating a permanent record for every CPD police officer.Originally intended to serve as a national model for transparency, the Citizens Police Data Project emerged from a decade-long collaboration with the University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and the Invisible Institute. CPDP is now the hub of several inter-woven projects and partnerships that share the common goal of making police data more useful to the public through transparency, investigation, and accountability.We designed CPDP with a focus on making data both accessible and useful by collaborating closely with the people who can best make use of it.The PDW team, led by Rajiv and Sukari, built CPDP while embedded within the Invisible Institute.See also additional reporting on The Intercept and elsewhere.

Public meetings are workshops for democracy, where residents of a community can witness, learn about, and act on the systems that impact their lives. But many local government meetings happen with no oversight or input from the public—a systemic failure of our civic information system, and a critical missed opportunity for genuine enables government accountability reporting and research by creating civic engagement opportunities for anyone who is interested in participating.We are working together with City Bureau to help scale the platform to more cities.