NYPD Open Data is Everywhere And Nowhere

January 13, 2015

DSCN9541It turns out that there is a huge amount of New York City Police Department data strewn across various NYC government websites. Did you know that you can find fourteen months of 911 response times to critical and non-critical incidents up to 12/22/14? That, plus copious data on crimes, crashes, and stop and frisk is all online. The problem is that this highly sought-after data is all over the place, hard to find, and often easily overlooked on poorly designed web pages.

We took a closer look at NYPD data after a recent article in City Limits pointed out that the NYPD has only published a few data sets in the NYC Open Data Portal. The idea behind the 2012 New York City Open Data Law is to get all agency data hosted on or linked from one portal, where it is easier to find and use. That is simply not happening, and NYPD is Exhibit A. NYPD’s data is strewn across numerous web sites, web pages and (if the data is about NYPD performance) is being published on an entirely different site. The Mayor’s Office of Operations publishes much of the NYPD’s data. This data is not linked to a central listing and is essentially impossible to find by searching NYC.gov, the NYPD website or the open data portal.

Here is what we see:

1. The Open Data Portal includes some highly sought crime and crash data published by the NYPD, but this is a small portion the NYPD’s online data and does not include important data about NYPD performance. The usefulness of the Open Data Portal is significantly undercut because there are no links to important NYPD performance metrics gathered by the Mayor’s Office of Operations. There are very few links to the copious amounts of data on the NYPD website. (Notably, large amounts of valuable data on the CPR: Citywide Performance Reporting site are not published or linked to the Open Data Portal.) Additionally, the search function on the Open Data Portal does not produce a comprehensive list of all NYPD-related data.

2. There are multiple NYC.gov web sites with significant NYPD related data – 911 call response times, for instance – which are not linked from either the NYPD website or the Open Data Portal.

3. The NYPD website is a complete mess and data is scattered all over it; there is no single page for downloadable data. We indexed the directories on the NYPD website and found 400+ downloadable spreadsheets, many of which are difficult or downright impossible to find via the site’s search function or by browsing. It appears only a small portion of this data is on the Open Data Portal.

4. The NYC.gov search engine does not produce ranked or clear search results of the available data sets.