Edmonton police post crime stats, response times online

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WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton police have made history by launching a website that makes detailed crime data public. Emily Mertz has the details.

Crime statistics and police performance data are now available to the public online, thanks to the Edmonton Police Service’s online dashboard.

The initiative is the first of its kind for a Canadian policing agency.

“The reporting of metrics and information is fairly commonplace. What isn’t commonplace is the mechanism in which this is being delivered,” EPS Supt. Chad Tawfik explained. “An integrated and adaptable mechanism online for people to access what they want, how they want, and use the power of the tool to do their own analytics.”

The website – which is smartphone and tablet friendly – went live on Thursday.

“We want to continue to be as transparent as we can by openly sharing crime data, statistics and performance measures with the public,” Tawfik said.

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Information on domestic violence cases, impaired driving incidents, traffic injury rates, as well as response times and levels of crime and disorder are all posted publicly on the dashboard. Clicking on a certain area will bring up supporting data, historical information, visualizations and links.

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Previously, some data was only available through a Freedom of Information request.

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“Beyond the broad scope of data being released, the best part of this platform is how easy it is for the public to now access our data, make comments, ask questions and put forward requests for other policing data they would like to see made available,” Cal Schafer, strategic analyst with EPS, said.

The site was created by the EPS and the City of Edmonton. Users can also access underlying data through the city’s Open Data Portal to share, download and comment on.

“We can check what people are looking for and what they’re searching for from our Open Data Portal,” Stephane Contre, the city’s chief analytics officer, said. “Crime is actually a keyword that is always in the top five of keywords that are requested for people who want that kind of information in machine-readable format as it’s going to be presented now.

“I think this is really a leap forward for the city, for the EPS, who will now have this data available for citizens, for businesses, even for academics who want to research more about what’s happening in our community.”

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In 2009, the EPS launched Neighbourhood Crime Mapping. The maps are updated daily and let residents search Edmonton neighbourhoods and see how many and what type of crimes were reported in that area over a specified amount of time.