Megan Taylor

front-end dev, volunteacher, news & data junkie, bibliophile, Flyers fan, sci-fi geek and kitteh servant

Data in New York City

On top of the Empire State Building, Manhattan, New York City, by meironke.

On top of the Empire State Building, Manhattan, New York City, by meironke.

One of the things that makes doing web journalism in New York City absolutely frustrating is the lack of online data.

I’m not looking for anything strange. The first data set I wanted was crime reports that include individual crimes and locations. NYPD publishes weekly crime statistics, but not data that could easily be plotted on a map.

It absolutely stuns me that one of the biggest, most famous cities in the world is so backward. And why hasn’t the police department been slammed with FOIAs from every journalist in the city for the past 15 years?

Guardian DataStore

Guardian DataStore

About a week ago I posted to Twitter an idea for creating a data hub for NYC, in the vein of The Guardian’s Data Store. Everyblock does a good job of the collecting what data NYC does put online, but their job isn’t to track down city departments and convince them that providing clean data in multiple, usable formats would be to their benefit.

About a year ago, some journalists were complaining about the “data ghettos” that began popping up on newspaper websites. The problem was/is that newspaper organizations began publishing databases without context.

How would my NYC data hub be different?

It’s not. I don’t envision this as journalism. It is, instead a service provided TO journalists.

The idea needs some more fleshing out, some investors, and a business model. But it’s doable, and necessary. I don’t ever want to hear another editor turn down an idea because it will take 2 years and a FOIA to get the required data.

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