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Tag Archive: crime data

Recommendations for Stronger Crime Data

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crime scene

Releasing crime data is important to keeping the public informed about what is happening where they live, work, and play. The information from crime reports, specifically, fuels a wide variety of news stories and apps that keep people updated on important public safety issues. Improving the quality and format of crime data releases would help encourage the continued creation of these kinds of stories and apps and maximize their impact, keeping the public better informed about an issue that many local governments already closely track.

There are several steps those who control crime data could take to improve the quality and formats of the information, especially related to crime reports. Many of these ideas, outlined below, can be found in our Open Data Policy Guidelines.

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The Impact of Opening Up Crime Data

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MinnPost-crime-map

Many cities in the U.S. release crime data, but how much information is available and how it's released varies greatly. Although there are more static tables with crime stats posted on websites than we’d like to count, there are also plenty of examples of decently structured data releases that form the foundation for informative and creative uses of crime data -- raising the bar for what is possible. All around the country, journalists, developers, and many other groups are transforming public crime data into meaningful stories, apps, data visualizations, and more, responding to the high demand for access to and better understanding of this information. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of the strongest examples of the different ways crime data can be used.

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The Landscape of Municipal Crime Data

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Every community deals with the presence of crime. This is evident in the daily police report logs shared through newspapers, community news websites, on TV, and through many other media outlets. The number of places sharing this information serves as a testament to not only the volume of information created from crime, but also to the public demand for this information. People want to know about crime to better understand what's happening in their neighborhoods -- the places they or their families live, work, and play.

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In the era of open data and online access to media and government sources, there appears to be a proliferation of crime information: How that data is shared from the original source, however, varies widely. Many municipalities use some kind of mapping service to share information with the public about where various kinds of incidents are occurring, while others focus on aggregate information posted online either in static tables or PDF reports. These variations show not just different understandings of how to share information about crime with the public, but also different understandings of what information about crime is useful to the public.

There are whole fields of study devoted to tracking and evaluating crime, but these complexities do not bar us from focusing attention on how this valuable data is collected and shared -- and how the systems for those processes can be improved.

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