Report Card…, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from marsmet491’s photostream

Public safety is one of the most important issues people consider when thinking about moving to a new city or neighborhood but Pittsburgh doesn’t do a very good job of making our public safety data transparent and accessible. The last Annual Report from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police available on the City’s website is from 2010. That is not transparency and accountability from the Director of Public Safety and the Mayor’s office. We should be able to do much better than that.

1. Interactive Mapping

Cities from Grand Rapids to New Orleans to Baltimore make their crime data public via interactive mapping tools that anyone with an internet connection can access. We have the data to make this available for the citizens of Pittsburgh; we’re just not doing it. Making this data publicly available will inform neighborhood watch groups, alert residents to patterns of crime or potential crime waves in their neighborhoods, and provide another avenue to enable Pittsburgers to provide tips to police.

Mapping crime data doesn’t just help residents become more aware of what is happening in their neighborhoods, it gives police powerful tools to ensure that resources are allocated where they are needed most. Mapping tools that update in real-time and can trace trends and patterns, can help law enforcement identify suspects, serve as an early warning of crime sprees or gang activity, and inform patrol routes.

2. Public Safety Report Card

Making crime data publicly available is only the first step. We also have to set public goals for crime reduction throughout the city and report back to residents about our progress in reaching those goals. As Mayor, I will create a Public Safety Report Card, available to everyone who visits the city’s website and updated every month with current data to show how well our public safety officials and my administration are doing. My police Chief, Commanders, and Supervisors will be responsible for developing strategies to meet these goals and to work collaboratively with block watches and community leaders to continuously improve public safety.

Without clear goals and metrics to drive our public safety strategy we are simply reacting to events. It’s time to get proactive and make every neighborhood in Pittsburgh a safe place to live.