Atlanta Crime On The Web

The Dalton gang and Midtown crime posts reminded me to remind myself to share a story about my friend Adrian Holovaty and a fantastic web site he has designed.

Adrian’s site is called uses the crime reports that the city of Chicago posts online and combines them with Google maps to create a free, searchable, visual database of crime in Chicago.

You can search for crimes by street, block, type of crime, police precinct, date, city ward, etc. One of best features (in my opinion) is that you can subscribe to search-sets via RSS feeds — in other words you can have crime reports about any street or neighborhood you choose delivered to your computer automatically.

Try the site yourself. Here’s all the recent reported crimes on a block adjacent to Steve Albini’s recording studio on Belmont Ave. in Chicago. No wonder the records he makes always sound angry and abrasive. is brilliant journalism. Through hard work and ingenuity, Adrian has given citizens a powerful tool — a tool that helps them become more aware of their surroundings and hold the city accountable its (in)actions.

It’s also a tool for holding the press accountable. One look at the site and you can see the chasm between what crimes the press is “reporting” (typically crimes that are easy to sensationalize) and what they should be reporting (the crimes that have the biggest impact on the most people).

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a site like this for Atlanta? The Atlanta Police Web site offers a PDF with crime stats. Unfortunately, the stats are so general that they’re useless for figuring out where and when crime is happening. The APD’s site also has a crime map function that. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t actually work.

Adrian is willing to build similar sites for other cities, but obviously a city has to cooperate by quickly posting crime data online in a searchable, compilable form.

4 Comments so far

  1. Will (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2005 @ 2:31 pm

    I just heard about on NPR last week or so and have been popping in there lately. I’m from Chicago originally, so it’s kind of nostalgic to look back with nostalgia at Clark and Belmont and see that, ahhh, tourists are still getting rolled at the L stop there.

    Seriously, it’s a great site: clear, simple and informative. I wish Atlanta had one.

  2. Kent (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:27 pm

    That was exactly my problem with the “alert” email I was sent that sparked my Crime Spree! post. I have no idea when these crimes are taking place. is what every city needs. I think the APB is too busy getting up photographs of every person arrested for a vice crime to run a database like the Chicago police department does. Their crime map is useless.

  3. Adrian Holovaty (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2005 @ 4:41 pm

    Wow, thanks for the sweet write-up!

    The main reason is possible is because the Chicago Police Department is one of the most technologically advanced (if not *the* most technologically advanced) police departments in the world. From what I can tell, most of their internal information is digital — crime reports, fingerprints, etc.

  4. Rusty (unregistered) on December 28th, 2005 @ 7:39 am

    I live near midtown, Atlanta. I happen to be a techology professional. The statement made by Adrian may be true but that is merely a fact, not a prohibitive condition. I have also volunteered my time and skills to my neighborhood organization. If they would like me to help configure and develop a crime watch site, I’d be glad to do it, FOC… Crime has gotten really bad recently. I am willing to do anything it takes to restore safety.

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