Minneapolis police have yet to release August crime data [UPDATE]
The purpose of MinnPost's new app, which charts crime by neighborhoods in Minneapolis, is threefold.
It looks at crime data in "a way," according to the website, "that encourages readers to dig into the data and ask questions, enables our reporters to track down stories, and encourages public officials to make this data more transparent."
Yet there can be no digging, no sniffing, and no spotlight without the assistance of police and their data.
As of Tuesday, Minneapolis police hadnot uploaded an Excel spreadsheet
on the city's website detailing neighborhood crime statistics for August 2013. Police did, however, release the statistics in a PDF file, a format that's not ideal for pulling data.
The omission left Alan Palazzolo, an interactive developer at MinnPost, to wonder openly on Twitter:
Coincidence? The Mpls Police stops releasing Excel monthly reports right after we publish a crime app based on them. http://t.co/hgcFtUoGtk
-- Alan Palazzolo (@zzolo) September 10, 2013
MinnPost will probably go ahead and update the app using the PDF, Palazzolo wrote in an email, but "it will require more work. Excel is not a data format either, but it is much better than a PDF."
Palazzolo noted that the city's "not producing Excel files any more, besides creating frustrations, is actually a step towards less transparency and open data (though I cannot speak to whether this is their intention or not)."
Minneapolis police Sgt. William Palmer, a spokesman, said he would look into the matter.
:::: UPDATE ::::
MinnPost updated their crime app Wednesday with stats from August PDF. The total number of incidents dropped 5.3 percent from the previous month. Compared to August 2012
Since this time last year, however, reported crimes are up 8.9 percent.
"Do to issues with the Excel formats we will no longer be posting them," Minneapolis police announced on their website.
Poynter has also looked into the issue, noting that it
asked Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Sgt. William Palmer what issues are preventing police from providing the same data via spreadsheet. "I dunno," Palmer replied in an email. "There are several inquiries and I have directed them to our IT Department."
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