Jersey City Launches Crime Alert Pilot


Jersey City, New Jersey is launching a new crime alert system with the help of a local open data group. Open JC, a project of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, will build the system with the support of a $250,000 Google Ideas grant made through the Tides Foundation.

The project will pilot a “smart crime” alert system in Jersey City aimed at helping residents have greater situational awareness around public safety.

Through the pilot system, residents in the selected areas will receive alerts on their mobile devices about crime incidents from the Jersey City Police Department’s open data from the 911 system. The city says it hopes that it the alert system will decrease the reliance on anecdotes which shape the perception of crime levels in neighborhoods.

Open JC will work closely with the local police department as well as city officials on the development. Residents included in the pilot will also have the opportunity to provide feedback.

Open JC conducted a study of the South Greenville Neighborhood Association, the Bayview Park Neighborhood Association and the Historic Paulus Hook Association to develop the plan for the pilot program. The study revealed that although the majority of residents learn about major crimes from formal news sources, they hear about local area thefts and robberies via word of mouth. Residents expressed a desire for a “smart” solution to this issue, specifically stating a preference for text and email alerts.

The crime alert system is set for a beta release in Fall 2015. Upon completion of the system, Open JC will make the source code available to anyone as an open source project.

“Transparency is not just about access, it is also about proactively sharing information, to which the City is demonstrating an active commitment,” said Akisia Grigsby and Emmanuel A. Simon, Founding Partners and CoExecutive Directors, Open JC. “We hope that through this technology we can strengthen the police-to-resident relationship in Jersey City by providing residents with insights based on crime data, increase community engagement, and improve the overall quality of life for residents.”