If the evening news has taught us one thing, local crime really captures our attention. It was only a matter of time before the web would catch onto that in a big way too.
One of my new favorite sites for 2010 is CrimeReports.com. They take local law enforcement data from over 900 police departments and mash it up with Google maps to show you what devilry is going on around you. I get a weekly email reminding me to check in, where I typically look out for things like breaking and entering and which blocks vehicles get vandalized on (don’t park there). Mapping sex offenders is part of the package too, though this technology has been around for some time.
Looking at this through our Gov2.0 crisis lens, CrimeReports highlights the value of municipalities making public data available and in a machine-readable format for all to monitor local crime issues. I think that’s pretty awesome.
My only criticism is that these 900 departments (or CrimeReports themselves) should have their feeds in Data.gov or somewhere similar for all developers to take advantage of. CrimeReports has dug out their niche and is already ahead of the game. Opening up the data would actually expose them to more use cases, promote healthy competition, get new agencies on board, and give them mad props in the loyal Gov2.0 community.
It would be an injustice to have this conversation and not include EveryBlock. In fact, we should be paying a lot more attention to founder Adrian Holovaty who founded the company in 2007, getting his first boost from the respected Knight Foundation News Challenge.
Rather than going a mile wide and an inch deep, EveryBlock is hyperfocused on hyperlocal information with crazy amounts of detail. In big metropolitan areas, what’s going on in “my neighborhood” is immensely more valuable than in “my city.” For example, just take a look at everything going on in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of DC.
On EveryBlock you’ll find building permits, requests for city services, media stories, photos, and of course crime reports. Take a look at this great snapshot of DC crime at the city level: http://dc.everyblock.com/crime/
Unfortunately I don’t live in an EveryBlock neighborhood, but if I did, I’d be the first to sign up for email alerts in my area. And if you’re a developer (or use an RSS reader) you can get a customized RSS feed for just about anything in your neighborhood.
You can follow Adrian at @adrianholovaty and @everyblock. And Adrian, consider this to be your official invite to participate in the GovLoop community!
Read Last Week’s CB2: Can Mobile Payments Fuel Gov2.0?
About Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett is a self-proclaimed emergency management innovator who is trying to make government better by improving citizen preparedness and crisis communications. He’s a graduate of Wharton with a master’s from Harvard with in “Technology, Innovation, Education.” His portfolio of companies and former projects include OneStorm Hurricane Preparedness, ReadyTown, GovLive, TexasPrepares and America’s Emergency Network. Chris was the recipient of FL Governor Crist’s 2008 Public Information Award. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL, loves to fish, and has been spotted sharing a pint with GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler in Tampa.
What does CB2 Mean? “Chris Bennett’s Crisis Blog.” It was originally CB Squared but the superscript 2 never took, so now we’re rocking the big 2.