Organised crime in Italy has now found a formidable opponent in the Spaghetti Op​en Data. Data activists – hackers, engineers and front end-developers – have come together under to structure existing data into a database that could prove an ominous foe for the Italian Mafia.

It is quite evident through the websites of various government institutes that Italian authorities have had a tough time collating the trove of data it has collected concerning the mafia dealings, points out Alberto Mucci, writing for Motherboard.

“Sometime you have this paradoxical situation where, for example, the anti-Mafia police (DIA) in Palermo do not have immediate access to the information they need on another part of the country,” explains Andrea B​orruso, a member of Spaghetti Open Data, to  Mucci over a Skype call. “It’s ridiculous and totally inefficient.”

Last year Spaghetti Open Data and DataNinja, another group of Italian data enthusiasts, found out that the authorities won a €7.5 million grant from the EU in 2013 for a database of properties confiscated from the Mafia. Yet, they also found that no such database had since been established.

Their solution? A four day hackathon in Bologna, which gave birth to the “Conf​iscatiBene” (Italian for “seized goods”) project. ConfiscatiBene is “a national database able to gather and organize with clarity and in a single place (this might seem obvious, but it’s really not the case in Italy) a list of all goods confiscated by the Italian authorities from the Mafia,” explains Mucci.

Mucci further highlights that ease of access to the right data is imperative to allay the influence of the organized crime network. “Having a central database would also help in the effort to revitalize former Mafia strongholds by granting former Mafia-owned buildings to entrepreneurs, artists, and activists,” he added.

Read more here.

(Image credit: Eric Erxon)


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