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OpenData Justice wants to simplify access to procedural information

Why does the Casa Pia process, Operation Hurricane take so long, or the use of ESF by UGT? Does the country have lawsuits evenly distributed? These are some questions that a group of citizens concerned with the situation in the Justice sector wants to answer in a simple way with the OpenData Justice project.

The idea came up during Codebits 2010, where the project achieved an honorable eighth place, but continued to be developed in the following weeks, taking advantage of public information sources and using computer knowledge and data visualization tools to ensure greater consistency.

In just two months the idea took shape and the OpenData Justiça website was brought online, already offering some tools for presenting and comparing information that can be viewed quickly and easily by any citizen.

“OpenData Justice was developed by a group that met informally and has no other context. We are all people with concerns about the Justice sector, with IT knowledge, and we decided to contribute to greater transparency”, he explained to the TeK Paulo Trezentos, one of those responsible for the project and a researcher at ISCTE, who stressed that the people involved have no professional affinity with the Justice sector.

Justice was chosen precisely because it is one of the areas that admittedly faces the most structural problems, but also where public information is available in digital format, although the data is difficult to access and not transparent for ordinary citizens.

Three visualization graphs are already available on the website: one showing the various stages of a case, a calculator for the average duration of cases in any court in the country and a graph on the geographical distribution of the cases.

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The information is all collected from public sources and tools of scraping and visualization of information to make data more intuitive.

In this way it is possible to know, for example, that a civil proceeding in the Lisbon Civil Courts lasts an average of 62 months while in Coimbra the same proceeding in the Coimbra Civil Courts took only 19 months.

In addition to the most visible aspect of data presentation, OpenData Justiça also has an important component of WebServices, providing programmers with the information already treated of the data collected so that they can develop new tools for visualizing and presenting information.

Paulo Trezentos cites some projects that inspired this initiative, namely the North American Data.gov and Shapes of Portugal, developed by Manuel Lima.

Questioned by TeK, Paulo Trezentos confesses that the group will be satisfied if it manages to inspire the Public Administration or some Foundation to develop a project for the dissemination of data in the area of ​​Justice, admitting that, as a non-profit group, the development capacity of OpenData Justice is limited. “We will continue to develop the project to the extent of our capabilities, but we would like to inspire good practices in this area”, he admits.

For now, the group is considering adding new graphics in a second phase of the project, which will be defined according to the suggestions that arise from the users of this new service.

Fatima Hunter