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How Data Can Help America Get To Zero Tolerance Towards Gun Violence

The world has seen yet another US gun violence incident on the 3rd of April 2018. Only this time, it was in YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California. Clearly, technology titans are not immune to this menace. Of course, only if America accepts that it is in fact, a menace.

Regardless of which side of the debate you stand, data typically tends to paint a true picture. Well, numbers don’t lie, if the process is kept honest.

With this in mind, I captured some key metrics to assess, America’s ability to act on data on matters related to gun violence. I will let you draw your own conclusions, though.

Since, 2014 there have been close to 300,000 incidents, according to Gun Violence Archive (GVA). The GVA is an independent data collection and research group with no affiliation with any advocacy organisation.

Importantly, there have been 74,632 deaths, including the 3 deaths on YouTube campus yesterday. For us as a society, this should be unacceptable, considering that we say that we are in the digital age and we want to get artificial intelligence and robots to run our lives.

On the contrary, we should be aiming high at making our world a safer place. I would certainly want to have a safer planet for my kids and how about aiming for ZERO tolerance towards deaths caused by gun violence, as a goal?

In order to promote positive actions and potentially eliminate death due to gun related violence, the issue must start and end with the involved parties within the process of gun handling. And to this end, current data and people management practises are mature enough to help, if orchestrated correctly, with the right spirit and intention. If at all anything, our spirit and intent in addressing this issue is a suspect, as opposed to our technological capabilities.

Let’s see how the combination of data and people, can facilitate this scenario.

To begin with, let’s articulate a goal to curtail gun related violence. Here’s my attempt of this. (I’m neither a lawmaker nor a political administrator. But, it is certainly a good enough definition as a father to my kids):

Predict, minimise, control and eliminate events (excluding self-defence) leading to injury or death caused by a gun handling actor.

The assumption here is that guns are made available to the public, primarily for the purposes of self-defence.

In order to establish a sound process to track, monitor and control events leading to gun violence, ALL the involved parties need to be identified, tracked and monitored. i.e., an inventory of all the involved actors, authorised to handle guns must be created and maintained. Any exceptions should be well understood, along with the related risks.

Once this is established, various related data sources must be used to enrich the actor’s data. This could include a ‘mandatory’ mental health data at specific intervals. A propensity model could be developed to identify “high risk” and potentially violent actors.

If there is a commitment to address this issue at a national level, data could be sourced from multiple agencies and integrated to get more holistic perspective.

Gun violence or in fact, violence of any nature is an outcome of a mental health condition, which needs to be addressed and treated systematically. Guns just happen to be an easily accessible weapon to the American public.

If America starts to improve its ability to act on data today, it will set policies that will naturally drive down the current average monthly number of incidents of 4,715, by at least 8%, in order to start a reversal of the 2014 monthly average number. And this will just be a start, which needs to be systematically sustained.

When this happens, there is hope of a ZERO death scenario. But, like everything else, it starts with FAITH. Thanks to President Carter’s new book.

We must act now! Let’s first address America’s inability act on data.