On Wednesday March 6 we’ll kick off our Crime Data Analysis project, and before then, it may be worth asking “Why are a bunch of amateurs attempting what the police should be doing? ”

The answer is that police departments analyze crime to catch criminals, and the Data Library analyzes crime to help residents understand their own communities. We data geeks aren’t very good at catching criminals, so we’re happy to leave that task to the pros.

Our project will cover only two small aspects of the field of Crime Analysis. We’ll be doing strategic analysis, looking at long term trends, and descriptive administrative analysis, which is creating summary reports for community leaders.

So, some of the activities that we’ll tackle as part of this project are:

  • Creating maps to identify long-term crime hotspots. 
  • Create charts of how crime varies over time of day or day of year.
  • Using statistical techniques to link crime incidents to environmental factors.

You can learn more about the goals of the project on the project wiki page.

Still, we should spend some time studying what the pros do. There are many books on the subject, and the Police Foundation has collection of crime analysis publications. There is also a local chapter of the Crime and Intelligence Analysts Association,  whose members we’ve invited to advise the project.

In the end, most of the work on this project will be guided by two factors: (a) what questions are participants interested in studying, and (b) what questions do community leaders want answered? I hope you can join us to explore the intersection of crime and data analysis.