Big Data Deconstructing Police-Protester Violence

Why do protests turn violent? Our big data research can find causes and offer strategies for peace.
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Nick Adams
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Community
Berkeley, California
United States
7 Team Members


Be a Deciding Force in History

Help us use big science for justice:

Data science provides a deep look into factors influencing the use of force. Over the past two years, we’ve compiled data from over 8,000 newspaper, radio, and television accounts of police-protester interactions at events associated with Occupy. Because processing all of this data is a huge undertaking, we’re creating a faster, more robust method that involves machine learning and hundreds of crowd workers to extract more details. With bigger, better data on police-protester dynamics, we can run statistical analyses to show how patterns of interactions lead to violence – as well as how protests stay peaceful. 

Raising $18k enables us to create open-source software to analyze big data of historic events, as well as 3 articles and 4 op-eds with lessons and insights for preventing violence.

Help us find insights for peaceful protest, such as:

  • How and why police, protesters, and government officials decide to use force
  • How interaction sequences escalate to violence
  • How to de-escalate from violence
  • When police and protesters use force strategically or as a reaction
  • How the public and media can better support peaceful protest in the future

Support research that can prevent violence.

  1. Tell protest, police, and media groups about the Deciding Force project.
  2. Like our page on Facebook  and follow us on Twitter .
  3. Back our campaign and find 3 friends to join the force!

Our Team

We are Nick, Gladys, Betty, Christiana, Sofie, Jonathan, Jenny, Carly, Dan, Zach, and Fady – a team of sociologists and computer scientists at the University of California, Berkeley. Together, we believe healthy, constructive, and peaceful protest is a part of our democracy.

Tell me more!

How does my contribution support your research?

  • $10k to write text classification modules for final data processing
  • $2k to train crowd workers to accurately process data
  • $8k for overseeing data quality control
  • $8k to write 3 academic papers, 4 op-eds, and begin a book
  • $2k covers perks and rewards for 'the force’ – that's you!

I’ll help you! What happens if I contribute more?

  • $40k enables 5 additional academic articles and op-eds – our database has at least 20 articles worth of material in it!
  • $45k supports production of algorithms from our work
  • $60k helps us create a news crawler that can predict police and protester interactions based on today's news
  • $100k expands our team to conduct cutting-edge news analysis like Vox.com!

Who has supported you thus far?

We are thankful for the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for getting us started, Berkeley's D-Lab  for a wonderful environment where we develop our approach and tools, Berkeley's AMPLab  for talented computer scientists generously supporting our crowd-research and machine learning work, and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS) for Nick’s Data Science Fellowship. Now, we need your support to continue.

Tell us about your scientific independence.

We are researchers trained to use transparent processes and tools to show our work. We draw from as many sources of information as possible, and we use conservative statistical estimation strategies to let the data do the talking. Our possible bias is our working hypothesis that violence will prove to be ineffective and harmful to the legitimacy of protestors, police, and other parties most of the time. We’re reaching out because our insights are emerging and our funding is running out! Congress recently cut funding for research into politics and government . As independent researchers following high ethical standards, we are resisting sponsorship from biased parties.

What’s this open-source text analysis software all about?

Big science in sociology opens a new horizon for documenting and understanding patterns of human behavior. To explain police-protester dynamics across tens of thousands of interactions and events, we’re creating advanced methods, gathering big data, and developing original software tools. We started using the time-tested method of tagging/highlighting text by categories. Then, we created our “txt_thrshr” software to engage with online workers and volunteers  who help us extract, classify, and annotate information for statistical analysis. As our dataset grows, we will automate our process by training computer algorithms to extract information in the same way we do. This is called “machine learning,” and it empowers us to analyze human behaviours in their intricate contexts and weaving sequences. This research ultimately can produce findings and information enabling better decisions by protester, police, the public and the media. To learn more, nerd-out on this paper – “Researchers to Crowds to Algorithms: Building Large, Complex, and Transparent Databases in the Age of Data Science ” – and check out www.textthresher.org .

How can I get involved with Deciding Force?

Thank you for your support!
Find This Campaign On
$4,960USD
raised by 43 people in 1 month
28% funded
0 time left
$18,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on September 11, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $5USD
    Thank You

    Our thanks and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish).

    4 claimed

    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $10USD
    Join the Force

    Receive a Deciding Force project button and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish). You will be listed as a 'Member of the Force.'

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    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $25USD
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    Receive a Deciding Force project sticker, button, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish). You will be listed as 'The Avant-Garde.'

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  • $50USD
    Rally the Force

    Receive a Deciding Force sticker, button, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish). You will be listed as part of 'The Avant-Garde.' A team member will also send you a handwritten thank you note and team photo.

    6 claimed

    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $100USD
    Launcher

    Receive a Deciding Force project sticker and button, and an historic Occupy poster signed by our team. Your name will be listed on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a 'Launcher' of the project.

    3 out of 100 claimed

    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $200USD
    Producer

    Receive a signed copy of Deciding Force, the book, a DF button and sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a ‘Producer.’ (Expect the book in early 2016.)

    5 claimed

    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $500USD
    Patron

    Receive a limited edition full color print of a news article describing events of the Occupy movement hand-labeled by our very own researchers. This artifact of our research project will be a collector's item someday. Along with this, receive the DF book, button, sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a 'Patron.'

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    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $800USD
    A Piece of History

    Receive a limited edition full color print of a news article describing events of the Occupy movement hand-labeled by our very own researchers. This artifact of our research project will be a collector's item someday. Along with this, receive the DF book, button, sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a 'Patron.'

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    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $1,000USD
    Guardian

    Receive a signed copy of Deciding Force, the book, a DF button and sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a ‘Guardian.’ (Expect the book in early 2016.)

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    Estimated delivery: October 2014
  • $2,000USD
    Founder

    Join the Deciding Force team and other Founders in San Francisco, CA for a feast, toasts, games, and a presentation of our methods and findings. Learn all about the data and statistical methods behind our work as you share the company of your brilliant and vibrant fellow Founders. (Travel and hotel not included.) Also, receive a signed copy of Deciding Force, the book, a DF button and sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a ‘Founder.’ (Expect the book in early 2016.)

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    Estimated delivery: April 2015
  • $2,500USD
    Research Collaborator

    Receive early access to our data and collaborate with us on the writing of a research paper, and be one of the first researchers to use our text thresher software, enabling researcher-directed annotation of text by crowds. We will show you how to do it and troubleshoot with you along the way.

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    Estimated delivery: January 2015
  • $5,000USD
    Champion

    Join the Deciding Force team and other Champions in San Francisco, CA for a feast, toasts, games, and a presentation of our methods and findings. (Travel and accommodations not included.) Also, receive a signed copy of Deciding Force, the book, a DF button and sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a ‘Champion.’ (Expect the book in early 2016.) You will also be acknowledge in the book for your critical support at a critical time.

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    Estimated delivery: April 2015
  • $10,000USD
    Pioneer

    Join the Deciding Force team and other Pioneer in San Francisco, CA for a feast, toasts, games, and a presentation of our methods and findings. (Travel and accommodations not included.) Also, receive a signed copy of Deciding Force, the book, a DF button and sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as a ‘Pioneer.’ (Expect the book in early 2016.) You will also be acknowledged in the book for your critical support at a critical time.

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    Estimated delivery: April 2015
  • $20,000USD
    Name the Law

    When we find scientific laws describing protester/police interactions, we will name one after you - for example, "Jones's Law of Provocation." Also, join the Deciding Force team and other 'Angels' in San Francisco, CA for a feast, toasts, games, and a presentation of our methods and findings. (Travel and accommodations not included.) Also, a signed copy of Deciding Force, the book, a DF button and sticker, and your name on our wall of gratitude (if you wish) as an ‘Angel.’

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    Estimated delivery: April 2015
  • $1,000,000,000USD
    Shhhhhh! (Hush money)

    Everyone has their price. For one BILLION dollars, we will cease all work on this project, reimburse all of our other supporters and go do something else with our lives. You won’t get your name on our wall of gratitude, though. :(

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