'Data Rescue' Event At University Of Washington This Weekend

Feb 24, 2017

Dozens of scientists and their supporters will fill a library meeting room at the University of Washington this weekend, for a six-hour data rescue event. They’ll be joining a national effort to copy information from government websites that they fear might go missing under the Trump administration. 

Data sets used in climate research are among the sensitive information that guerrilla archivists have been copying at events all over the country since January.   

“We just want to make sure that nothing disappears that people need in order to do future analysis,” said Jenny Muilenburg, data services librarian at UW, who has been helping to facilitate this weekend’s event.

She says data rescue activities have taken place at the end of each presidential term for a long time, but there’s been more concern than ever with the current administration. And the vulnerable information goes beyond climate to things like demographics and geography.

“Anything to do with like racial disparities and housing – certain agencies have been told not to provide that information to the public. So it’s things like that, which are making everyone very nervous,"  Muilenburg said.  

She says there’s room for about 150 volunteers this weekend. They’ll work from coordinated lists to crawl through and copy data sets and keep track of what’s where.  Additional data rescue events will take place next month in cities including Houston, New Haven and Boston.