Yesterday, the NYPD published a massive data set of historic crime data in the City’s open data portal. The data includes 5.5 million criminal complaints that were filed from January 2006 to December 2015, and covers “all valid felony, misdemeanor, and violation crimes reported to the New York City Police Department.” This data release is one of the largest of any kind in recent years, and provides a huge increase in the amount of publicly-available crime data. Previously, the NYPD only published historical information for the “seven major” felonies on the portal. (The 2016 Year-to-Date crimes are in a separate data set.)
Previous to this data release, the NYPD aggregated this data by years and category, or displayed it on the CompStat 2.0 portal, which mapped some crime data, but did not provide open data that the public could analyze or map themselves. Reinvent Albany has been pushing for the release of this data for sometime, and had requested it via a Freedom of Information request in June 2016. We and the NYC Transparency Working Group had previously criticized the NYPD for not publishing the data underlying the Compstat 2.0 website.
The new NYPD data is a bonanza for social scientists and public policy analysts. The newly released data is already geocoded—which allows for easy mapping—and it features a data dictionary to explain the contents of each column and explains the assumptions made in the collection of the data.
With this release of data, NYC catches up to other major cities like Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia in publishing incident-level crime information for bulk download. Historically, incident-level crime data was available to select researchers, but now anyone can use this data to better understand public safety in NYC.