Institute Proposal Makes it to Knight Foundation Finalists Round

in Institute News, Significant Bits
April 14th, 2013

A project entitled “Inside the Vault” to enable interactive citizen access to U.S. government data on financial institutions, which was submitted by the Institute to the Knight Foundation made it to the finalists round.

The project’s aims to create public insight from information the government already has. We can take that raw data—quarterly filings by thousands of banks—and make it available for exploration on the Web. We propose to develop a continuously updated view (with some lag time, of course) that enables citizens to ask how safe their banks are, gives journalists the tools to dig into the data behind the stories they are writing, provides the raw material for independent academic research on the health of the financial system, and creates an open backstop to the Dodd-Frank safeguards. Building on that, we plan to correlate the bank filings with other public data to build a more capable system for analysis. Making the data more easily available has the potential to transform current research in these areas.

That’s only the beginning. Having the data available for analytics, we want to explore what we can really learn from it. Can we find the warning signs of future financial crises before they drive the economy off a cliff? As citizens and journalists, can we assess the efficacy of financial regulations? Can data scientists mine the available data to find the anomalies and piece the clues to hidden problems? Can we use the data to create a big picture of systemic risk? Can citizen access effectively supplement the work of the new Office of Financial Research?

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