Yes, but precisely HOW superdangerous is Atlanta?

A list of the country’s 25 most dangerous neighborhoods includes FOUR in Atlanta??  Oh my god, Marietta Street between Georgia Tech and Philips Arena is going to have 307 violent crimes! In some unspecified time period. My chances of becoming a victim here are one in nine?! Maybe I should think about moving to the suburbs – you know, we can get so much more house for the price… Oooh, but this area is more hip and trendy than 99% of U.S. neighborhoods. I should probably turn to a realtor for help.

This is the vital information that’s been making the rounds from what seems to be some bunk real estate website and its “exclusive crime data.” It says they use algorithms, though, so it’s probably legit.

The Atlanta PD issued a response that I thought was pretty decent – City Councilman Kwanza Hall posted it here). They point out that no one can tell what methodology is used, that their numbers don’t match up with APD stats, that the study doesn’t seem to take into account the fact that the area in question includes major venues that host hundreds of thousands of people every year, and that the author is unresponsive to inquiries.

Do you think APD is hiding crime stats behind their skepticism? Is this report just sensationalism and jerrymandering in the pursuit of wrapping things up into a top-25 list? Is my chance of becoming a victim here in one year really one in nine? Ought I be panicking?

3 Comments so far

  1. Tamra (unregistered) on October 8th, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

    When lists like this are published the editors of the site count on two things:

    First, that at least half the people who read the list won’t think critically about it at all. Lots of people are intimidated by complex mathematics and if they read things like “proprietary computer models developed by…expert analysts” and words like “algorithm” they think “Well, it must be right if they used all that science-y stuff.”

    Second, they count on people who do question or object to the conclusions coming to their site and leaving comments, which, regardless of the content of the comments, is driving a LOT of traffic to their site, helping them make more money, which is really what they’re after.

    (Speaking of which, whatever you do, stay out of the comment section over there, sheesh. The very first comment was brimming with thinly-veiled racism, and it wasn’t even half a page before the discussion degenerated into “Obama has ruined the world!”-type stuff.)

    Any one person’s chances of being the victim of violent crime are influenced by so many things that trying to tack a number on it seems pretty futile. But our culture is so comparison-obsessed and people love information, no matter how dubious its usefulness or veracity. There’s a lot of crime in my neighborhood, but I’m FAR less likely to be a victim of it than the homeless people and sex workers who live and work near my building.

    Your age, who you hang out with, what hours you tend to be on the street and what you do while you’re out there are just a few things that influence your chances of being a victim of violent crime. Besides, are they counting things like domestic violence, someone waving a gun during a drunken argument, and fist fights between people who know each other? While at least one person in each of those situations would could be charged with assault, that’s not random crime.


  2. Tamra (unregistered) on October 8th, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    Forgot to add: The APD has gotten itself into a situation where people question everything they say. That’s good and bad, I guess.


  3. Greg Lyles (unregistered) on November 11th, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

    Nice blog!

    It’s sort of like the real estate web sites Zillow and Trulia. They attempt to take very macro level data and apply it at a micro level. Doesn’t always work too well.



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