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NCSC expands data capabilities to position courts for the future

NCSC expands data capabilities to position courts for the future

September 27, 2023 -- NCSC has built a Data Analytics and Forecasting team dedicated to turning data into useful, actionable information. The expansion of data capacity is anchored in NCSC’s Transforming Justice: 2022-2025 Strategic Campaign, which identifies data quality, governance, and analysis as a key pillar to better prepare courts for the future.

"NCSC has set up cutting-edge analytical services to handle all kinds of court data, including case-level data that will enable more refined and timely analytics that are responsive to and informative of public policy decisions impacting the state courts," said Nicole Waters, NCSC’s director of Research and Design.

A growing initiative by NCSC and the Conference of State Court Administrators is the National Open Data Standards (NODS) project, which developed business and technical court data standards to improve a court's ability to respond to data requests even when staff and resources are constrained. The standards also help reduce inaccurate interpretation of court data by non-court organizations. One-third of the states have begun mapping their data to NODS.

A new NCSC forum, Data Dives, helps courts dive deeper into data analytics, exploring ChatGPT, Web scraping, and more to gain valuable insights to help solve data problems. According to NCSC data scientist Andre Assumpcao, there's an eagerness among court staff to learn more about data beyond caseload statistics. Data Storytelling: Another Tool in the Research Toolbox, the third session in the series, is soon to be released. The forum discussions support the strategic, future-ready court-planning initiative outlined in NCSC's Just Horizons.

The Court Statistics Project (CSP) continues to grow and includes State Court Structure charts, State Court Organization (SCO), and the annual caseload statistics data collection. Work has begun on another project, the Census of State Courts, funded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, that will complement the work of SCO by expanding information about local and limited jurisdiction courts.

To further support courts striving to embrace a data-driven mindset, NCSC has embarked on another exciting project to identify "legal deserts" within a state. The map uses access-to-justice risk factors such as the limited number of attorneys in the area, distance to a courthouse, poverty rates, and more to help courts make informed decisions about the needs of court users. NCSC is also revising its data literacy curriculum to offer a national curriculum for court staff and leaders to use and present data in a way that informs and improves business operations. These initiatives will be available soon.