Want to solve a cold case? Grantee turns citizens into sleuths

Working on a Magic Grant can be a full time job, but Brown Institute grantees are also are busy with projects outside of the grant program.
Before starting on her 2015-2016 Magic Grant project, Allison McCartney of open.contractors spent her summer as the data fellow at the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) in Emeryville, California. While there, she worked on the interface for The Lost & The Found, a web application that gives audiences the tools they need to attempt solving a cold case. The site was developed to accompany a CIR investigation into the broken system that leaves thousands of unidentified dead without names for years, sometimes decades.
In this blog post, McCartney and CIR’s senior news applications developer Michael Corey explain the process of conceptualizing, designing and building an application to accompany an in-depth investigation.
The steps of preparing a news application, whether it’s purpose is to solve cold cases or explore government contracting data, are somewhat universal: research, prepare and build. Expect to see many of the principles found in this post in the open.contractors project, which will be released Spring 2016.