The New York City Police Department is releasing near-real time crash data to the public. The announcement, made yesterday afternoon, marks a pretty significant culture shift inside NYPD toward open data. Crash rates will be updated each day, which could also be a model for local governments and agencies who like to claim that releasing datasets even quarterly involves a lot of heavy lifting.
The change to daily releases comes after the NYPD started releasing crash data on a monthly basis, but that was deemed hard to use. The data will come through the city’s open data portal and users will be able to sort by the type of crash, injuries, or location. The announcement coincides with the latest round of NYC BigApps, the rolling app contest backed by the city. Mayor De Blasio is calling on local developers to focus on public safety this round and pointed to this data as a dataset to use.
Streetsblog points out that while the data is a significant upgrade, and actually goes ahead of a City Council measure to update the data, there are still some holes. The crashes are reported by the nearest intersection, not the actual location of the crash which data mappers have pointed out makes for difficult mapping. Data mappers also want to see more in terms of how summonses are reported, as right now they only go as far down as the precinct level which makes it hard to determine if high rates of crashes are coinciding with high levels of traffic violation issuances, for example.
Mayor De Blasio is also pushing a separate initiative – VisionZero – which is aimed at making the streets safer for all types of transport by lowering speed limits in high traffic areas and trying to improve signalling and sight lines.