Crime in NYC is REALLY Hyper-Local


This post originally appeared on WitLytic

Crime has local impact

I recently helped the NY Post analyze the city’s crime statistics for a story.  They then followed up with another story, The Hotel That’s Become a Hotbed for Crime, using data from the same PopStats felony crime reporting system.  They asked me to look at the area near an Upper West Side in on 71st Street.  Turns out that in the last 18 months a murder, a rape and an armed robbery were all reported at this hotel.

Sounds pretty bad, right?

Well, bad enough that Choice Hotels just severed its relationship with the location!

But is this block really so different from others in the neighborhood?  I was curious about the nearby blocks too.  Was it just the hotel?  Or was this block a relative hotbed of criminal activity?

The PopStats dataset reports crimes to the midpoint of each block.  I took a look at the data for the six surrounding blocks and found that maybe 71st between Columbus and CPW isn’t that bad after all.

Its actually a safe(r) block!

Check out these reported crime totals for the surrounding areas.  The hotel block is #5:

  1. 150 reports – 72nd Street (Amsterdam and Columbus)
  2. 106 reports – 72nd Street (Columbus and CPW)
  3. 85 reports – 71st Street (Broadway and Columbus)
  4. 53 reports – 70th Street (Broadway and Columbus)
  5. 42 reports – 71st Street (Columbus and CPW)
  6. 41 reports – 70th Street (Columbus and CPW)

So what’s going on here?  Well crime is local…very local.  Where we might characterize areas as safe and unsafe there are certainly specific blocks and corners where incidents cluster.  There may also be bias in the data…perhaps when no exact address is supplied they use that block on 72nd street as the default.  And of course these are crimes over a 10 year period; Yesterday’s dangerous block may be today’s safe one.

The POWER of local information

In this case we focused some attention on a very local situation - the crime at this hotel.  And Choice Hotels stepped up and took action sending a message that they wouldn't be associated with the establishment.

Local data, when presented well and detailed correctly, can really focus attention and achieve constructive outcomes.  In our business we usually focus on positive data.  What's great about the community, the schools, or the property.   The Onboard team is expert at helping our clients leverage this content for great results.

But its also true that when we bring negative info to light in a constructive manner, we can initiate change and build public awareness.

We’re just scratching the surface.  I think I’m going to keep exploring.

How can we help you?

Maybe you have a data question I can help with?  Or you need hyper-local content for your website, research, or project? Drop me a note and lets chat about it!  At Onboard we have the know how, the content and the relationships to help you succeed.