By Sarah Huffman
At Thursday’s Philadelphia City Council session, Councilmember Rue Landau, the newly appointed chair of the Committee on Technology and Information Services, introduced a resolution that would task the committee with using data to find new approaches to solve the city’s gun violence crisis.
In general, Landau believes local government should be using data and information as much as possible when tackling issues such as public safety, housing, homelessness and education, she told Technical.ly.
The committee’s previous mandate was to explore information technology planning, improving digital literacy, increasing access to technology and determining the best uses for technology in Philadelphia. Landau said she intends to broaden that focus and use data and technology to both solve current issues and plan for the city’s future, from “innovation labs, and some of the tech companies that are coming to Philadelphia and getting our young people ready to take those jobs, to even understanding AI more.”
“I really hope to learn more about potential technologies we could use to address our issues as well,” she said. “Philadelphia (is) not always at the forefront of solving our issues with technology, and I hope to help bring us there.”
Her new resolution is based on her experience working with the 57 Blocks Coalition, a collection of community organizations trying to reduce violence in Philadelphia. This coalition was formed after The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article identifying 57 blocks in the city where 10 or more people have been shot since 2015.
The resolution would authorize the committee to host a hearing that would examine data, hear from experts, and determine strategies and technology that could reduce violence.
It has already received support from 11 other councilmembers, she said.
“I’m using my role as the chair of the Technology and Information Services Committee to dig down deep into the data,” Landau said, “to analyze and implement neighborhood-specific strategies to move Philly forward.”
Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism. The story first appeared in Technical.ly.