Video and Photos from the Data DiscoTech

The Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, Detroit Community Technology Project, and Detroit People’s Platform collaborated to organize our first “Data DiscoTech” on September 15th, 2015 at the Samaritan Center. A DiscoTech is a multimedia, mobile neighborhood workshop fair, developed by the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition in 2011.

DiscoTechs create a space where people can discover technology together. Participants learn at their own pace and from people who understand the context of their neighborhoods and communities. The emphasis is on creating a peer-to-peer learning environment where those with a passion and proficiency for technology work and learn alongside communities who may be new tech learners.

Our Data DiscoTech event was organized in response to the “Open Data Portal” released by the City of Detroit earlier this year. At the Data DiscoTech we hosted 15 different hands-on stations focused on how we can make data more accessible and useful for community organizing. Individuals had the opportunity to learn about everything from data visualization, mapping their “data body” and learning about mobile apps designed to serve local communities. We also released the “Opening Data” zine, which presented use cases, opportunities and challenges associated with open data.

Check out our video recap of the Data Discotech!

Read more about the 15 hands-on stations at the Data DiscoTech below. Interested in organizing a DiscoTech or a training for your community? Contact us!

Hands-on Stations at the DiscoTech

Intro to Twitter
At this station, we learned how to make the most of using this social media tool for social justice. We explored how to tweet using 140 characters or less, and how to utilize hashtags and web tools such as TweetDeck and Twubs.

Twitter Station

Data Scraping
At this station we used the app Kimono to "scrape data" from websites. This involves transferring website content into datasets or spreadsheets. Kimono is a tool people often use to gather trends or do public polling on Twitter. It can also be used to make data that is only available in digital format available as a spreadsheet or in an analog format.

Data Visualization
At this station we demonstrated how data visualization can be a tool to make data easier to understand, more engaging, and interactive. Participants analyzed prepared datasets and conducted mini challenges that used different methods and tools for data visualization.


Stencil Art
At this station we learned how to use data creatively by making stencil art based on data regarding water shutoffs in Detroit.

Simple Flyer Making
At this station we explored how to design flyers with a web based design platform called Canva to help support your social cause or event.

Flyer Making

Transit Justice: Understanding our Bus System
At this station we learned how to analyze survey data regarding the quality and availability of bus routes in Detroit via “heat mapping.” Participants identified interactions with their own transit routes and explored alternatives.

Utility Assistance
At this station we provided information and sign-up assistance for people in need of help with utility bills and demonstrated how residents can apply for benefits online.

Your Data Body
At this station participants created maps of all the electronic data that is stored about them. We discussed who collects this data, where it's stored, and who makes decisions about it. Participants gained an understanding of how our "data bodies" impact our daily lives and what we can do to gain more control over them.

Community Wireless Networks For You!
This station offered an open Q & A on community wireless networks with a running demo of a community wireless network and examples of local applications such as wikipedia and the Music Box community radio station.

Comm. Wireless Networks

Navigating Open Data Portals
This station introduced residents to information available through the City of Detroit's Open Data Portal as well as Data Driven Detroit's Open Data Portal. Participants explored how this information can help them gain a better understanding of activity conducted by the City of Detroit and how that affects their neighborhood.

Data Justice Survey
At this station participants filled out a survey about what kinds of data justice provisions should be applied to the City of Detroit's current Open Data Executive Order. Participants were asked to attend two stations prior to attending this station: “Your Data Body” and the “Detroit Data Portal 101.”

Environmental Justice with Land Data
This station encouraged participants to think about a collection of plant seeds as data collection. We shared a collection of heirloom seeds, or a “seed bank”, with participants and then introduced them to an online gardening tool that can be used to envision gardens for vacant lots in Detroit.

Detroit Mobile Apps
This station informed people on Detroit-specific applications that were created with open data such as Text My Bus and Improve Detroit. These apps show how data can be useful in our everyday lives in Detroit.

Mobile Apps

Land Data
At this station we used the website Motor City Mapping to work with residents to identify vacant lots in their neighborhoods and how to use this data to support communities in building land trusts.

Data Murals
At this station we learned how we can use data creatively through “Data Murals,” or public art that engages community members in a dialogue about data-driven representations and misrepresentations of their community. Organizers from Detroit Future Schools shared their process for creating data murals.

See more photos of the Data DiscoTech here!

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