Thursday, September 24, 2009

DATA AND TECHNOLOGY: Availability of Police Data to Public

Question/Comment: City arrest and crime logs are published in the Somerville Journal with names and addresses. Unfortunately, the Journal's format is not conducive to mapping the crimes. Therefore, can you publish arrest and crime logs in a searchable/mappable way?

City Update 9/23/2009: In talking to the Chief about the publication of incidents in the Somerville Journal, the Chief said that reporters or the public can go to the station to look at the information. He would be open to publishing data online. This would take some effort to work out the logistics. We also do not have a mapping program available. Other concerns are that if everyone could have easy access to online records of address-level data, residents would be more wary about calling 911 for fear of retribution.

City Update 9/1/2009: We have as a goal to post crime data online, such as calls for service or incidents. There are some communities that have been able to post data online, such as Washington DC (see: The data, though, as we understand it, needs to be aggregated by block level or by some other summary category so that it is not possible to see household-level records. We are not currently able to do that, though it remains a goal. You may be interested in taking a look at publicly available crime data at

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