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Philadelphia Opens Up Crime Incident Data

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, December 12 2012

Today the City of Philadelphia released crime incident data for all major crimes going back to 2006, and started mapping the last 30 days of crime data on the city’s portal. The release puts the city in line with similar programs in Chicago and Baltimore.

“What we very much wanted to do here was provide this data in several different ways,” says Mark Headd, Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer.

The Mayor’s office worked with police department over the last few months to make the data available for professional data manipulators like developers, researchers, and journalists, but also for “a normal citizen might want to look at their address,” and see incidents of crime in their neighborhood. Philadelphia provides an API for the data, but it’s also available as a static download.

Incident data includes the type of incident (robbery, rape, homicide, etc.), the block on which it occurred, and the date when it took place. The data is scrubbed of sensitive identifying information, for cases such as sex crimes.

“We don’t want to victimize people twice,” says Headd.

The city plans to expand open data projects to other departments.

“It was important for us to go through a full case study,” says Headd, “we’re using it as a template.”

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