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CHULA VISTA OPENS WINDOW INTO CRIME DATA WITH INTERACTIVE ONLINE DASHBOARDS
Chula Vista police are making it easier for the public to access crime trends, calls for service and information of interest to the community with new interactive online dashboards available on the department’s Open Data Initiative website (https://www.chulavistaca.gov/departments/police-department/about-us/open-data-initiative).
The city’s crime and community safety dashboards as well as the special studies dashboards allow users to interact with various data resources such as the number of calls for service in different parts of the city, transient activity, and collision related data. Some dashboards also allow users to filter through specific crime types and see trends over time.
“One of our smart city goals is to be more transparent and engage with the community using technology,” said Chief Roxana Kennedy. “With these online dashboards, we’re taking information that we already collect and making it easier for the community to see it.”
Police regularly report crime data to the public at City Council meetings and through regional and federal databases, but the online dashboards provide additional ways to interact with data. The dashboards make new information available more quickly by allowing users to query different questions via the interactive features embedded in the dashboards. This allows users to have a more personalized experience when they interact with the data available via the dashboards.
Officials expect that the dashboards will eventually help answer some of the most frequently asked questions about public safety in Chula Vista. The special studies dashboards contain datasets focused specifically on topics the community is interested in. For example, when a business is applying for an alcohol license, there are often requests for information about the number of alcohol-related crimes in a particular area. Similarly, people who care about traffic safety are often looking for information about the number of pedestrian related accidents in a given month. With the dashboards, the public will be able to answers some of these questions themselves. New sets of dashboards currently under development will be about other community concerns. Although some of the dashboards are still under development, transient and pedestrian related dashboards are currently accessible to the public.Some dashboards can be updated automatically using data direct from the Police Department’s new computer-aided dispatch system. The new system was upgraded in 2017 using funds from Measure P, a half-cent sales tax measure approved by voters in November 2016.
The dashboards also can help clear up myths or misconceptions about crime trends. For example, the data show that the number of petty thefts and residential burglaries have steadily gone down each year since 2016. By multiple measures, Chula Vista is one of the safest cities in California.
“Dashboards are a useful tool that help us get a better picture of what’s going on in the city,” said Joseph Walker, supervising public safety analyst with the Chula Vista Police Department. “However, we want people to remember that the information in the dashboards is just one way of evaluating crime. It’s important to avoid making assumptions or drawing conclusions using one data point.”
The Police Department dashboards are one of dozens of initiatives identified in Chula Vista’s Smart City Strategic Action Plan, adopted by City Council in 2017 to guide the use of technology and advanced data analytics tools to grow the economy, engage the community, improve government efficiency, and enhance quality of life.