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How FastFWD company Algorhythm is fighting recidivism with software

The prescriptive analytics company builds tools to measure the effectiveness of government and nonprofit programs.

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice turned to Algorhythm to help reduce recidivism, the rate at which ex-offenders commit another crime.

In a pilot funded by both state and federal funds, the Kensington-based company is analyzing two years’ worth of data — 140,000 cases — to develop software that can help the state figure out who is most at risk for getting arrested again — and what to do to prevent that from happening, said Algorhythm CEO Pete York.

It’s just one of the ways Algorhythm, which completed the City of Philadelphia’s FastFWD accelerator last spring, aims to help governments and nonprofits better accomplish their goals by using big data and machine learning.

York, who has been doing research on outcomes for governments and nonprofits for 16 years, said the nearly one-year-old company is in the business of building “real-time assessment and evaluation tools” for organizations with a social bent.

Other partners include youth development organizations in New York City, who are using Algorhythm to evaluate after-school programs, anti-hunger nonprofit Feeding America and Gap’s corporate grantmaking arm, York said. The New York City pilot is being funded in the form of grants from a few NYC foundations that invest in youth development (York declined to name them). Those grants are also going toward developing the software that Algorhythm hopes to release to the public.

If you think predictive analytics are creepy, York said that his company is more focused on prescriptive analytics.

That means the company’s tools are focused on finding out what worked to prevent someone from getting arrested again and applying that to similar cases.

Of note: Algorhythm removed race and ethnicity as data points in the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice tool.

“Those are just metrics that hide the truth,” he said.

While Algorhythm’s products are only available to a select few right now, York’s ultimate vision is to make them available to the public through a “pay what you wish” program, so the tools can be accessible for all.

York, 47, of Garnet Valley, Delaware County, leads a staff of seven and is currently hiring developers. The company was headquartered at Kensington’s Impact Hub but is moving to Center City’s Cultureworks to be more centrally located, he said.

Companies: Algorhythm

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