First, it was Chicago transit maps on Google Maps. Now, I'm very excited to announce chicagocrime.org, an independent side project I've been working on for the past month or so of weekends and nights.
The site is a freely browsable database of crimes reported in Chicago. My scripts collect data from the Chicago Police Department once every weekday. The site slices and dices crime information in a ton of different ways, complete with a wide assortment of Google Maps.
I did all the development, data munging, etc. My talented friend and coworker Wilson Miner did the slick design. The site is powered by the Python programming language.
I'd originally launched it yesterday, anonymously (for privacy/security reasons, as crime is a touchy subject), but I've given it more thought and decided to put my name on it.
The site has already gotten a ton of good press, and it got so much traffic yesterday that I had to improvise a quick caching system. (It's nice and zippy now.)
Some of my favorite features:
- The map view lets you view crimes by a number of criteria, all updated dynamically on a Google Map via Ajax.
- Find your district uses the Google Maps interface to guess which police beat you're centered on.
- Every city block in Chicago has a detail page with its latest crimes and links to crimes within 1, 2, 3, 5 or 8 blocks. (Example.)
- It's got RSS feeds for every block and police beat in the city.
To me, the most exciting thing about this site is that (I hope) it gives people helpful and important information in an easy-to-use way.
The second-most exciting thing is that I've got a long list of cool technical things to add. The ink is far from dry on this baby. Make sure to subscribe to the site news RSS feed to keep up. And please send me suggestions if you think of other cool and helpful ways to sort and display crime information.