September 14, 2011

City of Chicago Putting 10 Years Worth Of Crime Data Online

We live in a world that can be downright scary at times. Whether you are talking about the internet or the outside world, dangers seem to lurk around every corner. In just the last few weeks we have seen reports from McAfee talking about how today’s newest cars can actually be hacked. We’ve also seen how companies like Facebook are actually paying people to hack into their sites in order to find their own weaknesses. 

In the real world, security and safety are things that are talked about in the abstract, but statistics are rarely made public. The police department of Chicago is looking to change that, at least in their little corner of the world. Chicago will be releasing – starting today – every crime statistic in the city over the last 10 years. That move is unheard of in law enforcement circles who usually believe making statistics of that depth public will only serve to give their departments black eyes. 

The statistics will not just be archival but rather will also be updated every day. This will give Chicago’s residents the ability to freely and continually evaluate their neighborhoods. Even better when considering a move will be the ability to actually see what kind of crime is taking place in their prospective neighborhoods. 

This particular maneuver is the latest in a series that Chicago has undertaken since former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor in May. The endeavor is supposed to show that a city that has long been known as secretive is now open to the public.

“It’s a whole new era of openness and transparency,” Brett Goldstein, the city’s chief data officer and former police officer said. “You determine your own analysis.”

While a citizen could track the crime rates of what had happened in their city the day before already, the move to be able to look 10 years back is being hailed as almost revolutionary. While it will aid citizens in determining their own analysis it will also aid researchers putting together larger studies. Many hope it will also help the city reduce its crime rates.

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Edited by Jennifer Russell