Hi, it’s the Westside Communities Alliance Data Dashboard team checking in again!
Since last week, we mostly focused on materials to present to a focus group to get initial feedback. Currently, it is seeming like that will happen this Wednesday during Vine City’s Public Safety Committee meeting. It’s been a struggle to gather a group of stakeholders to meet with to discuss the new tool. We were able to attend various neighborhood/NPU/community meetings but mostly observed from the back just to get a sense of what kinds of things community members were interested in and discussed during these meetings.
We attended the NPU L meeting last week. The meeting was attended by residents from the English Avenue and Vine City neighborhoods, where representatives from the city and local businesses/organizations made presentations about the status of their planned projects within these neighborhoods. There were representatives from the Atlanta Police Department, Atlanta Regional Commission, District Attorney’s Office in Fulton County, Georgia Tech, Park Pride, Conservation Fund and a local developer who presented updates on projects they were working on or new projects that they were hoping to garner community support for.
As first time attendees of these NPU meetings, we witnessed first-hand how the residents are suspicious of any outsiders coming into their neighborhoods to “study” them or make recommendations on how they can help themselves. There was an awkward moment when a professor from Georgia Tech announced that he would like to study how the lack of sufficient tree canopy was leading to increased temperatures in the Westside, and was told by one of the senior residents that they did not need such a study as its premise, that the Westside does not have enough of a tree canopy, was false. There was also some intense discussion about residents who could not make it to the NPU meetings regularly, being unaware of all the different activities and projects happening in the Westside. A resolution was passed for a report of all activities to be included as part of the Historic Westside News.
There was one brief announcement related to public safety that was relevant to the work we are doing. The Westside recently received funding to install 80 video cameras in different parts of the neighborhood in order to deter criminal activity. One resident reported that a camera installed at the corner of Griffin and North Ave, which was a hotspot for drug and crime incidents, had been successful in reducing the congregation of thugs there. It would be interesting if we could obtain the locations of these cameras, and layer them over the crime maps to see if there is any noticeable change in the crime activity around these cameras. Our partners have contacted the organization responsible for installing the cameras, to ask if we can use that information.
On our end, we’ve more or less finalized what options we want to showcase and are now making small polishing touches on them. The biggest additions that we made were on the aggregated data page. In addition to various visualizations to compare the crime types andcode violations for each year and for each NPU, we also developed this interactive visualiation that allows people to get in depth with questions about time.
The drop down menu of “Date Level Selector” has options for Years, Months, Weekdays, and Day. UC2 is police jargon for the type of crime, and you can filter the graph based on what types of crime you are interested in. Lastly, there is an option for filtering based on year. When you hover over each point, it tells you what date each point is and how many records there were for that date.
The reason we decided to develop this tool was because one of the first questions that the folks from the Westside Communities Alliance gave us was whether there was a significant increase in crime during spring break, which may link youths being out of school with crime, a prevailing narrative amongst the seniors in the neighborhoods.
From this graph, you can see that each year follows somewhat of a sine function (of course, the astronomer of the team noted this), where the crime rate hits a peak during the late spring and summer and falls back down during the colder months (This phenomenon has been observed and studied for decades now). The lowest points are, to the team’s surprise, during the Christmas holidays. Our main use case for this is to allow people to see the trends for themselves to confirm or debunk whatever assumption they made about crime trends. If we were to get really deep into this, we could create a model that determines how far off the crime rates are on particular days from what we would expect to see, but we’re trying to focus more on the minimum viable product we can present.
Our most important goal for this week is to finally be able to present our current product to a group of community members and get their feedback!