State Court Viz-a-thon, Engagement Through Action by the National Center for State Courts

About the Competition


The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is hosting a virtual multi-week contest to create a supportable, interactive, data visualization of the state court structure charts. We want to enhance transparency and comparability by creating a user-friendly tool that integrates resources that have existed separately until now and enhance public access to court data through the facilitation of education about court processes. Register for the Viz-a-thon and create a new resource that will engage, invite, and inform our public!

Classic and Boring Structure Chart To Transform Into Idea
Clock Timeline
Water Droplet 9/20: Data Drop
Question 9/20 - 9/27: Virtual Q&A Sessions
Checkmark 9/30: Participants Submit Solutions
Prize Medal 10/3: Finalists announced
Computer Monitor 10/4: live broadcast of finalist presentations and judging
Registration ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Register through Eventbrite for the Viz-a-thon to reserve your spot. We are limited to 75 participants.

Register and then ...
After you register you will be added to the NCSC Viz-a-thon Slack instance. Throughout the competition you will have daily access to NCSC subject matter experts, and NCSC will be hosting several live Q&A online meetings where you can ask questions about the data, and our data viz needs.

Have questions? Contact Diana McSpadden,

 PRIZES ● ● ● ●

Grand Prize: $5,000

Runners-up will receive prizes totaling $3,500


The Court Statistics Project (CSP) collects nationwide state court caseload data and court characteristics.

This is the only dataset of its kind: nationwide, comparable data, not found in any other sources.


● Court Names

● Jurisdictions

● Case Types

● Flow of cases through appeals

Viz Requirements ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Visualization Requirements

What is considered a data visualization?
A successful Viz-a-thon visualization will represent the hierarchy of state courts, and the flow of cases types through those courts. The visualization will represent properties of the courts in a graphical form, translating quantitative and qualitative properties of the courts into visual figures. The graphical forms can be simple or complex but the underlying data must be represented.
What forms can the visualization take?

A triumphant Viz-a-thon submission will be an interactive tool or web app, either:
● developed from scratch,

● developed using an existing visualization library (e.g. D3.js) *,

● or developed using an existing data visualization tool (e.g.'s Tableau Public, Power BI)*.

* If an existing code library or tool is used, then attribution must be made to the library or tool, and if there is a cost associated with the library or tool, the cost must be declared when the solution is submitted. (See Intellectual Property Rights Section of Terms and Conditions.)

What absolutely, positively needs to be included in the visualization?

An effective Viz-a-thon solution will show all the required data (see below), and will:

● be interactive, 

● present the courts in an individual state, how they relate to each other, and where types of court cases are heard in the state,

● and allow a user to investigate the similarities and differences in court structure and court cases in the state courts.

Technical Requirements

● Your solution must be cloud hosted, or self-hosted, and available for viewing for the duration of the contest.
● All supporting code used in creating the solution must be made accessible to the judges.
● Your solution must have a cloud based infrastructure. This can be open source or have a standalone license with reasonable cost (any licensing costs must be disclosed).
● NCSC must be able to use the data visualization solution free of charge, or if a code library or tool is used that costs money, then the cost must be declared when the solution is submitted. (See Intellectual Property Rights Section of Terms and Conditions.)
● The solution must be maintainable through a SQL database/Excel Spreadsheet.

Data requirements

● Teams must produce at least 10 state court structure charts.
● Must include New York and Georgia.
● Must have some filterability/searchability.
● Required filters: State, Trial Structure, Court Level, CSP Aggregation, Neighbor State, and Case Types.
● Recommended Filters: Rural, Population, Population Density, Appellate Criminal Structure, Death Penalty, Funding Source, and caseload size.
● Must show appeals process.
● Required data elements to display: State, Court Names, Court Levels, Funding, Appeal from Administrative Agency, Notes, Links, and Case Types.
● All other data elements provided are recommended but not required.


● Resolution be HD (1,920X1,080).
● Ability to print each state structure chart on one page.
● Including un-required data elements for comparison, filtering, and sorting.

Be sure to read the full Rules and Terms & Conditions.

Have Questions???? ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

NCSC subject matter experts and stakeholders will be holding online Q&A Sessions 9/20/2018 - 9/27/2018 for participants to ask questions about data, technology, design, and structure chart uses.

Q&A Session information will be sent to registered participants, so please register to learn more.

Judges ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Image of Viz-a-thon judge Nicole WatersNicole Waters

Nicole L. Waters, Acting Director of the research division, has been with the National Center for State Courts since 2000. She also serves as the project director for the Court Statistics Project, which annually compiles caseload statistics from state courts across the U.S. Current areas of research include investigating the evidence-based research on problem-solving courts, evaluating issues of case processing and timeliness, and examining the policy and social implications of jury procedures. Dr. Waters has served as faculty for courses in research and evaluation methods designed for court leaders and judges, including the Fellows program, and serves on the advisory board of NCSC's educational division, the Institute for Court Management. At the University of Delaware, she received a Ph.D. in sociology with a specialization in law and society and research methodology/statistics. She received a M.A. in general experimental psychology from California State University in Fresno and her B.A. in psychology and statistics from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.

More judge information coming soon.