What does HBO’s classic crime drama The Wire and an Amazon Prime membership have to do with mapping crime in Seattle?
Quite a lot.
Both directly contributed to a University of Washington electrical engineering major Jay Feng’s idea to use data to predict crime in Seattle. “It sounds kind of cheesy, but I never really understood how nice Seattle is when looking at the kind of crime that a city like Baltimore can experience on a day to day basis,” he writes on his blog Jay’s Life.
Feng used Seattle government data that is open to the public, with the help of open data solutions company Socrata. He says the most popular page is “Seattle Police Department 911 Incident Response,” which at the time of his report, had 45,000 views.
In his post, Feng outlines exactly how he scoured the data and found patterns, including the ebbs and flows of when calls go up. Funnily enough, the highest spike on the graph was the “day before the Super Bowl in 2014.”
Other findings? Seattle, as we know, is a relatively safe place to be, despite the “occasional drunkard and grimy bus assaulter,” writes Feng. False alarms comprise about 5 percent of all incident response calls.
Feng also mapped out the most violent crimes, which he rated a “four or higher,” including “arrests, assaults, robbery, drive-by, weapon calls, homicide, person down and casualties.” He found the Rainier Beach neighborhood, Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Aurora Ave. north of Green Lake have the most calls rating a four or higher.
Feng hopes his findings can show that “improvements in data completion could lead to an endless amount of better opportunities for crime prevention and prediction,” even for a relatively safe city like Seattle.
According to King 5, the Seattle Police Department is pretty intrigued by Feng’s work and wants to speak with him. No doubt, other city police departments would probably like to talk to him, too.
Well done, Jay! McNulty would be impressed.