This tweet by @seantubbs caught my eye yesterday, and scrolling down the COVID-19 Thomas Jefferson Health District (TJHD) Data Portal I came across a dataset for Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail (ACRJ), which I’m adding to the Virginia COVID-19 Repository. The Thomas Jefferson Health District has been publishing COVID-19 data about the ACRJ for a few months now; I am personally ashamed to have noticed this so late after its initial publication. Luckily there hasn’t been much to miss, so I’m not going to dwell on it.
Side note: the dataset lists the facility as the Albemarle County Regional Jail, however Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail is the only criminal justice institution in this health district that also uses the initialism ACRJ that I am aware of. I’m positive it is the latter, however since it is not listed as such in the canonical source, and without verification, it is important to note.
Checking the URI’s history in the Wayback Machine, I have hobbled together a few datasets for this data point. While the data doesn’t show much by itself, it raises a few questions and thoughts I’d like to share.
First and foremost, it is important to congratulate and acknowledge TJHD and ACRJ for being proactive and taking this initiative. The significance of supporting open gov, open data, and civic tech, during a global pandemic, is not lost on me. High fives all around!
More thoughts and questions:
This data has not changed since its creation almost two months ago, with the exception of adding a note/description. If there was no plan to publish more, then I do not understand why it has time stamped update dates. If there is a plan to publish more, what is the delay(s)?
Believe it or not, this dataset is incredibly valuable, while simultaneously providing little value. It is historically significant to the timeline of Virginia Open Gov, and it provides an example of how organizations responded digitally. While at the same time, the data’s stagnicity paints its stories with such a high level of opaqueness, it may as well be written in invisible ink. Has no one been tested? If so, why not? Is there data that has yet to be added? If so, what are the organizational blocks that are holding this up? No wrong answers here, in my opinion. Any input is better than none towards facilitating a comprehensive learning environment for the betterment of all of facets of Virginia dotgov.