Showing posts with the label open crime data standard

The Most Common Barriers to Accessing Police Data

One of the biggest drivers behind the current police reform demands in the US is police data . There are a myriad of police datasets available within a police department that paint a picture of the inner workings and behavior of its officers with the public. There are many different datasets circulating within a police agency. One of the least ‘sensitive’ data points (the lowest hanging fruit) is the data SpotCrime asks for from police agencies nationwide - Records Management System (RMS) data and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD/911) data. This data has been around and released to the media and public for centuries . It includes what is known as a ‘crime blotter’ - a list of what and where crime occurs throughout the day within a police jurisdiction and what where and when police respond to the public’s calls for service. At SpotCrime we believe in and encourage police departments to embrace open crime data. ‘Open’ meaning the data is available in machine readable format (ex. API

Qualities of a successful open crime data set

Hundreds of agencies are making their crime data openly available . We wanted to make sure we highlighted the great qualities of an open crime data feed and continue to push agencies to make their crime data feeds as good and complete as possible.  We’ve found that sharing data openly is a good indicator that a police agency has control over their data, they are not afraid of accountability, they can manage confidential and non-confidential elements, and they are a good player with state and national law enforcement. Remember, ‘open’ means the data is available in machine readable format for anyone to collect, use, and share without restrictions. Good Qualities RMS and CAD data - both tell different stories and are both important. Lat/long coordinates - helps with geocoding accuracy. Machine readable - PDF is NOT machine readable. Follows a standard - ex: SOCS   Up-to-date frequency - hourly or daily  Accountable - Contact information for questions. This op

UCR and NIBRS: Not Enough to Keep Communities Safe

Should you use year old economic data to determine the current economic stability or the unemployment rate? Would you wait a year after receiving medical information to make a decision on how to proceed with a potentially life threatening procedure? Do sports teams only look at statistics at the end of the season? No. So, why do we happily wait a year for access and the ability to analyze crime rates with UCR (Unifrom Crime Reporting) and NIBRS (National Incident Based Reporting System) reporting? Although well intentioned, it is our belief that UCR and NIBRS should not be data communities ask for and utilize when trying to figure how to assess crime in their neighborhood.  *Please note we are not arguing for cessation of UCR and NIBRS. If these reports have been around for so long, then they must be useful. Right? UCR and NIBRS Fall Short Timeliness: One of the problems with UCR and NIBRS reporting from the community perspective is timeliness. The reports are only

How Police Agencies Can Avoid a DOJ Investigation

For over 20 years the Department of Justice has had the ability to investigate police agencies for violating constitutional rights. The investigations begin to enforce laws like the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 , the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (“Safe Streets Act”), and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VI”). The laws are intended to address systemic issues rather than individual complaints of police agencies.  The DOJ can file civil lawsuits against local government in order for them to adopt reforms - which is typically done by consent decrees or memorandums of agreement - before anything is taken to trial. Out of the estimated 18,000 police agencies in the US, about 65 have been under some sort of investigation by the DOJ since the 90’s. The DOJ investigations included misconduct in numerous areas, but the main three areas were: Use of Force Stops, Searches and Arrests Discriminatory Policing Area

What Does SpotCrime Do for Open Data?

SpotCrime was founded in 2007 as a crime mapping and alert website. Since then, we've become an advocate for open, equal, and fair access to incident based crime data (RMS/CAD), opening up crime data all across the world. Below are a few of the major impacts SpotCrime has had on the open data movement. We don’t believe any current or past crime mapping company can come close to the impact we've made. Standardization - SOCS We developed the SpotCrime Open Crime Standard (SOCS) which is being adopted by agencies nationwide. Free Software - SpotCrime Catapult SpotCrime Catapult is free software we developed in 2013 to help police agencies pull a public file from their CAD/RMS. We only ask that agencies using the software make the file created using Catapult open to anyone, not just SpotCrime. Shaping Policy - SB644 We were honored when SpotCrime was asked to testify on the Maryland open data bill SB644 which took effect in June 2014. Read our testimony

UPDATE to the SpotCrime Open Crime Standard (SOCS)!

After speaking with CIO’s, IT departments, open data advocates and the like, we’re making an update to SOCS ! We’ve been pretty lucky to have so many people across the country give us their feedback. The first update we’re making an obvious one we should’ve included in the roll out. We will now be breaking out lat/long coordinates into two separate blocks. Data Type Required Permitted values Example Details Latitude Yes Geographic coordinate system 39.399262 Geo-coding accuracy. Not displayed by SpotCrime. Longitude Yes Geographic coordinate system -76.602990 Geo-coding accuracy. Not displayed by SpotCrime. Another change we’ve made to SOCS is more of a clarification than a change. In the original layout, we list the file types accepted by SOCS. We also listed examples of file types not accepted under the Open Data definition and mentioned they are still accepted under the SpotCrime Standard.  SpotCrime will still map these formats, however, they are not considered a

Challenges Behind Access to Crime Data

Here is one example of how SpotCrime attempts to get data and the headwinds we face. Back in 2011, our founder Colin Drane responded to a request that appeared in the Google Group ‘Geospatial and Crime Analysis Technologies - Resources’ by Susan Smith, then Crime Analyst of the Shawnee Police Department in Kansas. The request was regarding a project and requested information on Geospatial and Crime Analysis Technologies. We offered to map crime data for free and received this terse response: From: Susan Smith < > Date: Mon, Dec 12, 2011 at 10:51 AM Subject: Re: Geospatial and Crime Analysis Technologies - Resources- SpotCrime To: Colin Drane < > Cc: Brittany Lambert < > Hi Colin, I am familiar with your company. I just finished a 2-year study of the online crime mapping companies. Thus, I don't need your folks to map some of the data from the Shawnee log. We already h

Ask Your Police Agency to be Open with Crime Data

Image on a mobile browser You may think that SpotCrime is simply a crime map and really cool crime alerts. Well, we’ve become a lot more than that since our launch in 2007. We want public crime information in the hands of every person as quickly as possible. In order to reach that goal, we’ve realized transparency and openness are two very important aspects to government and public data. That’s why we’d like you to ask your police department to post your city’s public crime data openly. ‘ Openly ’ means the data is available in a machine readable format without restrictions on the ability to use, consume, or share the information. A good place to post would be on the  city’s open data portal website (if they have one yet) or directly their own police agency’s website. Why should you ask them to do this? There are a couple of reasons. 1 - Remove the restrictions on public data. Posting in an open format would remove any restrictions a third party vendor m

The SpotCrime Open Crime Standard (SOCS)

There are already methods for agencies to share information among each other like N-Dex , NEIM , GJXDM . But what about sharing information openly with the public? Currently, Baltimore shares data differently than Baltimore County who shares it differently than Annapolis, MD who shares it differently than Arlington, VA who shares it differently than Dallas, TX who shares it differently than LA who shares it differently than Vancouver, BC who shares it differently than London, England. Until now. We’ve created the SpotCrime Open Crime Standard (SOCS) to encourage police agencies throughout the world to keep crime public data uniform, simple, and ubiquitous. We’ve also created the standard to set guidelines for making public crime information open and accessible to the public. Similar to LIVES with health inspection data or GTFS with transit data, the SpotCrime Open Crime Standard (SOCS) will allow agencies to report the same kind of information to the public openly, causi