More Data For Public

By Kevin Masterman, Toronto Police Service Published: 2:22 p.m. August 4, 2017

A new Toronto Police Service data portal has been launched to the public to improve understanding of policing and provide the community with a transparent view of public-safety issues in their neighbourhoods.

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Public Safety Data Portal users can view maps on showing crime as well as resources in their neighbourhoods

The  Public Safety Data Portal (data.tps.on.ca) provides unprecedented access to police statistics, including crime and traffic data at a granular level of detail. Data is provided in easily accessible maps and interactive dashboards as well as raw data for downloading, known as Open Data. 

“The Public Safety Data Portal is designed to help reinforce the Toronto Police Service’s principles of being actively accountable, establishing trust in the community and enhancing collaborations channels with the public and partner agencies to address community safety challenges," Business Intelligence & Analytics Manager Ian Williams explains. “Providing Police Open Data contributes towards collaboratively finding insights into data. The public will be able to analyze data through interactive dashboards, mapping applications and even download raw datasets for their own analysis. We have built capabilities into the tools that allow users to filter and extract data by date, neighbourhood or by specific categories in the data.” 

The first phase of the data releases includes 2016 Major Crime Indicators (excluding sexual assaults), a historical Homicide dataset from 2004 to 2016, Traffic Collision data, including events where a person was killed or seriously injured (KSI) as well as TPS Division and Patrol Zone boundary files. The data is provided in formats consistent with open data industry standards such as .csv, .kml, shapefiles and APIs, which people can use to develop applications and integrate data with other government data. 

A website with tabs for open data, data analysis and maps with a photo of a TPS scout car
The Public Safety Data Portal hosts open data, data analysis and maps

The Public Safety Data Portal is a resource for the Community Police Liaison Committees, community associations and partner agencies that collaborate on initiatives to address civic challenges related to crime and traffic collisions. 

Recently, the Service also partnered with Ryerson University students to create the Community Asset Portal, currently featured on the site. 

“It allows people to use our data to better understand complex safety needs and work together to find solutions," Williams said, of the map that focuses on social services. 

“The ongoing release of the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) Open Data and our collaboration with agencies provides a tremendous opportunity to share information, apply data-driven decisions and find innovative solutions to public safety concerns,” Williams said. “It allows us to work together with the public and across sectors to make sure we are where we are needed the most.”

The portal was created as a result of the work done by the Transformational Task Force (TTF).  Mandated to look beyond the way policing is currently done in Toronto, the TTF proposed a modernized policing model for the city that is innovative, sustainable and affordable.  

A map of Toronto with multi-coloured dots on it
An example of a crime map where users can filer by crime type

Recommendation #17 in the  Action Plan: The Way Forward, commits to the use of open data for public safety. 

“Privacy was a key priority in the release of our open data”, Williams said, noting the development of data was undertaken with input from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to ensure the data is free from any personal information that could be associated with an individual. The location of crime occurrences has been deliberately offset to the nearest road intersection to protect the privacy of parties involved in the occurrence. Further, the Service is sharing routine disclosures of information, which would otherwise have to be requested and processed through Freedom of Information.

Releasing this data provides the public with more accessible and timely information, and may ultimately create efficiencies for the TPS. Williams said opening up the data to the public saves time and resources by reducing the number of frequent data requests for the same information and it allows research to be conducted more efficiently. 

Williams said he expects the portal to expand and adapt to the public’s interests and needs. Part of its development involves a survey to gather the public’s opinion on the portal and to strategically develop training, workshops and seminars to further engage the community on the use and application of TPS Open Data. 

“There is huge potential to enhance the portal and develop it into an essential resource for both the public and the TPS," he said.

You can follow Toronto Police Service Business Intelligence & Analytics on Twitter:  @TPS_MAPS_STATS

Visit the Public Safety Data Portal at  data.tps.on.ca


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