Crime Statistics in DC

After the news today that MSNBC.com acquired EveryBlock, a service that tracks local news in 12 different cities and organizes news, reviews, and other localized data into searchable locales (zip codes, neighborhoods, etc), I decided to poke around a bit.

One of the areas that EveryBlock tracks is crime statistics and Washington, DC is one of the 12 cities. I discovered that according to publicly available crime data, there are over double the number of crimes reported in Northwest than their are in Southeast or Northeast.

Photo via Badercondo.org

Photo via Badercondo.org

In DC, the city is divided into four quadrants based around direction from the U.S. Capitol building. That means everything south of the National Mall and west of South Capitol St is considered southwest. South of East Capitol St and east of South Capitol St is Southeast and is generally considered the most violent area of the city. North of East Capitol St and east of North Capitol St is Northeast and is largely residential. North of the National Mall and west of North Capitol St is Northwest, the busiest and most upscale quadrant of the city.

I dug around for a bit, looking at data by zip code, by ward, by quadrant, by types of crime, etc. Needless to say, it was quite startling to see this chart via Everyblock.com:
Picture 4
Naturally, we can draw some conclusions based on this striking data:

  • The socialites that go to the upscale bars that pepper Northwest, are clearly more likely to commit crimes than the Hipsters who pepper the bars along H St in Northeast.
  • Traffic circles have a higher rate of inciting violence than straight roads (the bulk of DC’s many traffic circles are in NW).
  • A higher cost of alcoholic drinks is directly responsible for an uptick in theft.
  • A higher concentration of tourists in and around the National Mall and monuments escalates anger level in citizens who have a tendency to then get into altercations as frustration level boils over.
  • The Metro and access to the Metro has a negative effect on people.
  • Sunday brunches don’t have quite the positive effect everyone assumes they do.

Clearly, we can draw these conclusions. Clearly.

Or maybe we just like to jump to conclusions that support our own worldview. For instance, I really dislike Northwest because it’s pretty douchey, expensive and parking is hard to find. Therefore, my worldview is projected into these crime statistics and I can make claims such as the ones above. Finding evidence to support our own worldviews, instead of finding a worldview that matches the evidence is the American way, eh?

Yeah. It is.

Reminds me of a healthcare reform debate.

A Tale of Two Cities: How DC and San Francisco Are Handling Citywide 311

Without a doubt, I am a data whore. I love raw data. I love APIs. I love finding interesting ways to mashup data. With the new found craze in government for openness, led in no small part from the Federal level and work endorsed by the Obama Administration to work pushed forward by Sunlight Labs, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and others, I’d expect the openness to trickle down to state and local levels. And it is.

On one level, you have Washington, DC (where I live) who has been making impressive strides through OCTO (Office of the Chief Technology Officer) with the assistance of iStrategyLabs and the Apps for Democracy competition.

Washington, DC is in production of it’s Open 311 API, a RESTful data API that they are careful to note is in development. (We will be building a PHP library around this API shortly, so keep an eye for that announcement over at Emmense.com).

In using a REST API, DC is opening up the service sector of the DC City government for developers of all sorts to tap into and build applications around. All to meet the needs of city residents.

San Francisco, on the other hand, just announced that they are utilizing Twitter to allow residents to submit issues directly from their favorite web application. Simply by following @sf311 (and being refollowed), citizens are able to DM requests.

Personally, I am partial to DC’s approach but I applaud both cities for pushing the boundaries to bring city government closer to the people. Frankly, I’m a little concerned about San Francisco utilizing Twitter for this purpose, for the same reason that I am hesitant about any business making their business model about Twitter. Twitter has not proved, at least in my mind, that they have the business savvy to keep their service from going out of business. Likewise, they have not proved their technical ability to make a fail-less system. It’s a game of Russian roulette to base a business (or government service) around this application. San Francisco probably has failover plans and this is just another approach though, so arguably it’s not a significant risk.

However, the solution to the 311 problem becomes infinitely more scalable when utilizing a pure API and allowing the pure submission and retrieval of data. And the use of an API keeps responsibility in-house. Twitter is not paid for by taxpayer money, so there is no expectation of quality control. A government owned and maintained API, on the other hand, provides safeguards that make sense.

All that aside, it is clear that both DC and San Francisco recognize that the accessibility of governments to their citizens is an utmost important goal in 2009. They are taking laudable steps to break down the barriers and solve real problems with modern technologies. For that, I can find no fault.

Brian Beutler, Washington D.C. Political Blogger, Shot

I want to give a shout out to Brian Beutler of Media Consortium who was shot last night in Adams Morgan. I wrote on it over at Washington Hotlist a few minutes ago.

I have never met Brian. I hope to some day and chances are good since he’s in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery.

Brian is part of the political blogosphere that those of us covering technology rarely get to see because worlds don’t overlap. However, they should. If there’s anything the recent trip to Washington D.C. by Robert Scoble shows, it’s that our world in tech is very much affected by the policies established by the government. Political bloggers fill that niche and we should be paying attention to them, especially now during the political season.

Tragedy is never welcome. It was only 7 months ago today that my friend and fellow blogger, Marc Orchant, passed away suddenly in his home office. That rocked the entire tech space, as it should have. This hits closer to home, for me, because it’s in Washington, and more specifically Adams Morgan where I spend a good deal of time.

Folks, we cannot live in fear. District officials will point to this and other acts of violence and rattle the cages of people, just like the Bush Administration has done concerning terrorism. We cannot live in fear. We cannot let this control our lives.

Brian, I am praying for a speedy recovery. I’ll be paying closer attention to you and your writing, and I expect you’ll have a great many things to say about this. I’m glad you’re okay. Get better.4781A4CE-A563-4DE6-BF82-8D5E0C8A8AC0.jpg

Photo Credit: myglesias

SxSW vs. CxCC

So have any of you noticed a recent trend on Twitter? 

It seems that our ultra-friendly, tech community has temporarily (well, hopefully temporarily) divided.  We are now those at SxSW and those NOT at SxSW.  I, unfortunately, fall in the NOT at SxSW camp.  I have requested that SxSW folks start their tweets with “œSxSW hi” so that I will know right away to overlook them, as the pain was getting unbearable.  My friend Mike Panetta declared via Twitter that he was going to shut off SMS notifications from people at SxSW until it’s over because “œIt’s too much.”Â  Andrew Wright twittered in three separate posts all of the things he would be doing if he were there in a resigned tone. 

Well, those of still in and around the District are not going to take things sitting down anymore.  We are going to have our own party.  And it might not be as big, glamorous, and internationally recognized, but it’s all we’ve got. 

You are hereby cordially invited to Central by Central Central, or CxCC. (I had no part in that name. Aren’t we Mid-Atlantic?) Monday Thursday evening.  Exact time and location TBD.  But it’ll be great!  Y’know, kinda like how all the cool places to be at SxSW are organized at the last minute and spread virally (or so I hear).  Throw in your ideas of where we should go at my site – DC Concierge, although it looks like we’re thinking BBQ.  Uncoincidentally. 

Grow Where You're Planted

My offline friends will tell you how much I hate where I live. I moved here to Baltimore as a preteen with my parents and aside from a 4 year stint galavanting around New York State, including 2 years in NYC, I’ve lived in the Baltimore area since. I graduated from high school here. I got married here. We had our son here. I’ve developed my career here.

For better or for worse, Baltimore is home. I can point out The Wire locations. I could give you a photo tour of Hamden, Federal Hill and Catonsville. I can introduce you to “the best crabcakes in Baltimore.”

Historically, though, I hate it here.

In recent years, I’ve considered relocating to Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Boston – anywhere would be better than good old Bmore.

The last move consideration was to Toronto where my employer, b5media is located. For whatever reason, I decided that wasn’t a great move for us. And so, we stayed in Baltimore. At that time, I decided that I was going to grow where I was planted. I’m in Baltimore, so I’m going to make the most of the opportunity to flourish here.

So, I began interacting with likeminded people here. (I did expand here to include Washington, D.C. since – it’s really the same place with only a 45 minute drive between us. I began attending as many social media events as I could. In Baltimore, I met , Greg Cangialosi, Steve Fisher, Greg Gershmann and more. (Some of these guys I’ve known for awhile). In D.C., I met Shashi and Shana, Rana and Eric, Jeff, Jonny, Jim and many many more.

Last night, at DC Media Makers I looked around the room (and the subsequent compulsory after-event at Capital City Brewing Company) at 30+ passionate people from very different background and very different lifestyles (Scott Stead comes from CNN, Stowe Boyd has a respectability aura all of his own, Chris Penn dropped in from Boston) and thought – how cool is this scene? Besides Boston, I don’t know of any single social media community that is well defined, interesting and really family-like as the Maryland-DC-Northern Virginia tech community. It’s actually sort of unreal, if I’m honest.

As I made the drive home from DC back to Baltimore, the phrase “Grow Where You’re Planted” kept turning over in my mind. You may not particularly like where you’re at, but you can make a difference in the community that you find yourself in. My take away for the weekend is that, as social media types, you should be doing everything in your power to get out of yourself and help the community grow.

I’m not sure that I have done anything particularly special for this community, but I know that I would rather invest myself in this community than in any other regional community anywhere else in the world.

Video Questions for Social Media Club DC

Thursday night, I’m going to be speaking at Social Media Club DC. If you’re in the area, I’d love to have you come by. It’s at Viget Labs in Falls Church, Virginia and you should RSVP to Larissa Faire by Tuesday if you plan on attending. It is BYOB – Bring Your Own Beverage (non alcoholic, if I recall). More details here.

The name of the talk is Blog Draft Day: Making it into the Bigs, and I’ll be talking about some of the things bloggers encounter when trying to break out of the “long tail”. Specifically, my talk will be around marketing, message and brand and I’ll be sharing some of my own thoughts as a blogger who has enjoyed reasonable success. I’ll also be sharing some of the things I’ve learned at b5media working with bloggers who have encountered their own success.

One of the things I really want to engage is questions from both the audience as well as those of you who can’t make it to the event in person. Because of the good folks at Viddler, you can send your videos which I will try to share at SMC, via comments right here on this blog. Click on the “Record or choose a video?” link in the comments section and you can record your video right there and it will post as a comment. Simple as that. No special knowledge, or gear. As long as your computer has a webcam, then the hard part is taken care of for you.

Give it a try. It can’t hurt.

(Now to test out the ustream embed for Technosailor TV)

Come Hear me Present at Social Media Club DC

If you’re in the greater Washington area, or you’re going to be in town on Feb 21, stop by Viget Labs at 6:30pm. I’ve been asked to come speak to the group about personal branding and the proverbial “A List”. We’re calling the session “Blog Draft Day: Making it Into the Bigs” and I’ll be sharing some of my own experiences as well as insight I’ve gained managing proverbial “A list” blogs at b5media.

For more information, or to RSVP visit the Buzz Bin. See you there.