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A New Tool To Count Chicago's Crimes

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, March 22 2013

The apps team of the Chicago Tribune has announced a first release of a Chicago Crime API, offering more than 12 years of Chicago crime data, in an "easy, fast, useful and rich way," news applications developer David Eads writes in a blog post.

The City of Chicago already provides access to this data through Socrata. But that interface can be "fussy and hard to integrate," Eads writes.

The city's data is updated daily.

The Tribune's team members are pitching their API as a quicker and more user-friendly tool, highlighting what they say are simpler query parameters with more thorough documentation, and an easier ability to access cached, summarized data.

In addition, the Tribune also offers a daily summary API endpoint that is able to roll up to thousands of rows of crime data into day-by-day counts of all major crime types, according to Eads.

The API also includes extended metadata about community areas and crime classifications, and can also represent complex data structures and pull in data from sources other than the City data portal, Eads writes.

The Tribune Apps Team and the Northwestern Knight Lab are sponsoring a series of hack days to work with the API and the crime data in April.

Following this beta release, the Tribune plans to release new versions of the API next month based on feedback with the goal of releasing a full 1.0 version in late April or May.