[Open-Legislation] Law Census proposal

Enric Garcia Torrents enricgarcia at uoc.edu
Mon Jan 20 22:54:30 UTC 2014

Thanks for the interest, Theodora!! Some updates on the issue:

1) We are preparing an outreach campaign to law schools worldwide, to engage their professors, researchers and students in the open law census creation, so they can all contribute by providing information on their jurisdictions (so far, one thousand two hundred twenty law schools listed): https://stanford.box.com/s/171s9eryg9lyrlxarg7v

Law is the code that runs our society, that's why we believe it is of paramount importance to make it as open as possible. Hosting the census at the OKF is ideal to enable international cooperation, as a neutral platform in which different academic institutions, research groups, law practitioners and others can contribute to a common effort. The pooling effect will be much beneficial for the community at large, while rising awareness of the importance and potential for impact of open data in this domain. We would like to discuss all outreach actions with you before going ahead, to agree on the contents and maximize the impact.

2) Oleg suggested the use of crowd-sourcing via PyBossa or similar. We are contemplating the possibility of integrating human computation in the process, although this method seems more fit for simpler, repetitive tasks, rather than assessing the state of entire courts and jurisdictions. We will most surely use PyBossa in other aspects of the project later on, such as graph mining via a custom game with a purpose, but not in the census per se.

3) We forked the general census code about a month ago, and are ready to upload and deploy a custom version either at the okfn.org server (if possible) or at a VPS. Time frame for this are the next four or five days. Customization of the code and re-design is quite straightforward, and to speed things up we have already got it quite sorted. What will take a bit longer to implement are non-essential new features such as filtering and aggregate scoring, mentioned in the initial proposal. Coding issues will be dealt directly at the aforementioned Github repository.

All the best,

--- Missatge original de Theodora Middleton per a Enric Garcia Torrents (enricgarcia at uoc.edu) amb còpia a open-legislation ,spuig at stanford.edu,Christian Villum ,Sander van der Waal ,djoumi at gmail.com,Clemens Wass ,d0840001 at gmail.com,Katelyn Rogers enviat el 20.01.2014 11:20

This is really exciting - looking forward to hearing more!

On 17 January 2014 07:56, Enric Garcia Torrents wrote:
Dear All,

following conversations with Sander last Friday, and Rufus at the last Open Data Maker Night at London, we are proposing the group a new community project. It is a open data census specific to law, to keep track of the degree of openness and transparency of courts world-wide. Although advocacy is the primary goal, such census will include links to the official sources of data, thus becoming useful as a directory as well. Its design will be based in the general census code, including minor adjustments to fit the domain. I.e. we reckon it would be better to present the census in a court by court basis, while allowing for filtering by region, country, subject (criminal, civil, administrative, human rights, international trade,...) and court category (international court, supreme court, ,...), instead of trying to present it all in a country by country basis -which would be problematic, as not all justice systems are integrated by the same elements, and there are many justice institutions above the national level-. Scores beyond court level should be dynamically generated as an aggregate of scores within any given sub-set, using the same filtering parameters to create the groups.

Being a community project, it is and will always be completely open to anyone's ideas and participation. We are looking forward to receive feedback on design specification and all other aspects of it, shaping and building it up collectively. Please note that the project refers to the judiciary and all its bodies, international courts, and arbitration centers. Unless there is enough quorum of members willing to take the legislative side forward, the inclusion of parliaments and other institutions will be left aside for the time being, as it would involve different parameters and filtering options. The proposed solution is to include an assessment of the legislation data as part of the court ranking "Rules and Legislation" (attached image), that would cover both the rules and conventions governing that court, and the availability of the laws of its jurisdiction. Other proposed columns refer to the availability of decisions, opinions, proceedings and neutrals (judges, arbitrators,...) details, which could be expanded if you think there should be more. As for the breakdown, we have restricted the modifications to one single addition, the question: "Is it linked?", leaving it to the information panel the commentary on which standards are being implemented, if any. To end with, we propose adding two more colors to the census key, orange to denote partially available data (if some is online, some is not, some is in bulk, some is not, etc, leaving to the comments sections to specify from which year to which year data is available, or which other restrictions apply), and black in case an assessed item is not applicable to any given court.

As soon as the server at the Open Knowledge Foundation is available we can install the census instance, make the basic modifications and set up a Github repository of the forked source code, if necessary. From that point onward the design and programming can be easily managed collectively, although we were talking about raising the funds needed to cover the expenses of the original OKFN's census developer, so he can get involved and coordinate efforts in developing the census platforms. We have already prepared a list of over two thousand courts and centers (https://stanford.box.com/census), and are ready to start assessing them as soon as everything is up and running. This list is non-comprehensive and is not intended to be followed by the community -every individual and every local group is encouraged to add information on their own jurisdictions and/or the courts of their interest-. Only this way all courts can be eventually covered. We will, in any case, start by including to the census the status of all international courts, arbitration centers and national supreme courts. 

Hope you find it interesting.
Looking forward to collaborate on this.


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Theodora Middleton
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