ImageAs part of Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s open data and government transparency initiative, the City of Philadelphia has released data on crime incidents occurring in the City. Residents can view details on crime incidents – including the location of crimes – for the most recent 30 days on the City Map Portal at www.phila.gov/map. In addition, detailed crime incident data going back to January, 2006 is also being made available for download through the www.opendataphilly.com.

Crime incident data is one of the most requested data sets in cities where such data is currently made available to the public, like Baltimore and Chicago. Providing access to this data through both the City Map Portal and as a direct download for use in a wide variety of ways underscores the value of this important data to an array of different users.

The data released by the Philadelphia police department includes the details of major crimes occurring in Philadelphia, including Homicide, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Theft, and Motor Vehicle Theft. Taken together, this data is made up of almost 600,000 individual crime incident records. The Mayor’s open data and transparency initiative was formalized earlier this year through Executive Order 1-12, which called for the creation of a Chief Data Officer position for the City and for the release of high value data sets by City departments.

“The Philadelphia Police Department and the City of Philadelphia’s partnership in making this important data accessible to the citizens that we serve is yet another indication of us moving forward in this technology and information age; as well as our continued quest to maintain transparency and the highest level of integrity,” said Police Commissioner Ramsey.

The release of high value data is a key differentiator for Philadelphia relative to other cities who have recently announced so-called open data initiatives. As CivSource has reported, several cities have embraced open data in name only, opting to release never ending sets of transit times and in some cases wellness surveys but nothing of real value. Philadelphia and Boston have been true first movers in open data opting to create offices of new urban mechanics and build out usable data repositories for developers and interested citizens. It is our firm belief that citizens and developers who spend hours geeking out in Excel or JSON do not do so in order to overthrow any level of government, but instead have a real interest in civics and a desire to improve their community. We hope more cities will leverage the power of developers in their communities to solve problems soon.