Investigating power relationships and networks of interests can take days and days of research and journalistic investigation, especially if it involves a lot of information. So imagine doing that with millions of names or identification data. Facilitating these tasks is the goal of CruzaGrafos, a project that Abraji launched on November 5th for its associates, in partnership with Brasil.IO.
It took more than a year of heavy work carried out by Abraji and the programmer and transparency activist Álvaro Justen, known as Turicas, with the support of the Google News Initiative. In a nutshell, CruzaGrafos is a free software graphical tool for cross-checking and advanced data investigations that allows visualizing relationships in graphs.
With this tool journalists and researchers will be able to investigate huge databases, without being experts in data science. After all, knowledge and understanding of large public databases is one of the ways to improve investigative journalism and social control over governments and companies.
Many of the databases used in the project come from the work of Claudio Weber Abramo, an activist for transparency and a pioneer of data journalism in Brazil, who died in August 2018. Abramo founded the non-profit organization Dados.org together with the journalist and former president of Abraji José Roberto de Toledo. Abramo's family kindly gave up the bases he built for Abraji to continue his work.
With the support of Toledo, former president of Abraji Daniel Bramatti and Abraji's project coordinator, Reinaldo Chaves, started to build up CruzaGrafos to explore large Brazilian databases. At the same time, Turicas presented the graph solution to facilitate access to information. The project began to take shape with analysis and management by the current president of Abraji, Marcelo Träsel, the executive secretary, Cristina Zahar, and the data analyst Stefano Wrobleski.
“Abraji's mission is to strengthen journalism, and I have no doubt that many impact stories will be published with the help of CruzaGrafos”, said Bramatti.
As of this Thursday, associates can use CruzaGrafos - just go to the website and type in the registration email at Abraji and the password. On November 19th, the platform will also be open to the general public (see more details). To be an Abraji member, go to this link and to support Brasil.IO, click here.
Up to now, CruzaGrafos has already 29.4 million records: 20 million people and 9 million companies, from the Brazilian IRS and the Electoral Superior Court. The graphs show the proximity and society relationships of all this information. In the coming months the project will be updated and incorporate more databases.
Abraji is also putting online, free of charge, the content of the course “Journalism, Covid-19 and Corruption” which shows various techniques for using CruzaGrafos (in this link). Each video comes along with a folder that brings additional reading materials and investigative case studies about relationships between public people and companies. Here and here are two direct links to case studies.
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