Before our modern coding languages came into existence, punched card data processing technology was the original recorder and keeper of data since the mid-1800s. Ada Lovelace was perhaps the earliest pioneer of what would become computer programme language. Teleprinter code was also used for Morse Code. This artistic interpretation pays homage to the early days of data recording.
Original artwork by Surface Impression (Aedán Crooke) for the Information Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
Waterloo Regional Police Services
Open Data in Policing initiative gives citizens access to data about police calls and crimes to improve public safety
With their Open Data in Policing initiative, the Waterloo Police post an annual dataset about police occurrences and have an online crime map tool to share information about police calls – a transparency effort leading to greater accountability.
The Waterloo Regional Police Service shares a wide range of policing information on its website, such as police occurrence statistics, criminal offence summaries, crime mapping, and national crime statistics. This Open Data in Policing initiative is an example of how transparency can lead to greater accountability.
With a goal of increased transparency, the Waterloo Police have been posting detailed police occurrence statistics annually since 2011. Each record contains information on the call type, general location, as well as call and service time information, and the dataset is anonymized to protect privacy.
Their website also has an innovative feature: a Crime Map that enables citizens to look up general information about police calls for service in their neighbourhood or across Waterloo region. Users can find and display approximate locations of recent calls for police service for listed data ranges and occurrence types. They can also use the tool to map historical occurrences. Tips and support help ensure the tool is accessible and easy to navigate.
With this Open Data in Policing initiative, the Waterloo Police is increasing public awareness of trends in police calls for service and crime prevention. They are promoting civic engagement, enabling academics, students, media, and others to raise questions with respect to approaches to public safety in the community. Sharing this data also enables and supports conversations with various partners about further improvements to public safety and ensures evidence-based decision-making.
By being open and transparent with police data, the Waterloo Regional Police Service is accountable to the public it serves, which increases trust and confidence in its ability to maintain public safety.