Crime Over Time: Visualizing Crime Data in Chicago


Socrata and their partner Statwing have put together a report on crimes in Chicago, analyzing the times of day and year that they occur. The results are worth checking out. Some interesting gleaned tidbits:

  • Across the board, crime is low in the early morning and steadily rises throughout the day into the evening.
  • Friday is the day of the week with the most crimes committed.
  • There is a spike in crime on New Years Day and a dip in crime on Christmas.
  • Narcotics arrests are noticably lower on New Years Day, the 4th of July, and Halloween.
  • Homicides are more common in the warmer months.
  • Total number of crimes per year is declining.

Read the report here:

2014 Old Place New Tricks Placemaking challenge


The Metropolitan Planning Council is readying their 2014 Placemaking challenge, Old Place New Tricks. Visit to learn more. Placemaking is a process that recognizes the value in building safe, well-used public spaces as a way to help build communities. Good public space not only helps improve the physical environment of a neighborhood, but helps neighbors create an attachment to where they live and in turn, drives economic growth.

We all have spots in our neighborhoods that could use a little love. Maybe it’s an empty lot with overgrown lawn, strewn with plastic bags. Or perhaps it’s a frumpy strip of retail without much allure. Either way, it could use a little love.

Now is your chance to do something about it! The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is challenging you to teach an Old Place New Tricks by activating a public space in your community for one day this summer.

Read more:

Civic leaders offer ideas for revitalizing neighborhoods


How does one revitalize a neighborhood? The Knight Foundation recently hosted a Civic Innovation in Action Studio  to explore ways to harness talentadvance opportunity and promote robust engagement.

If you spend any time at all reading about American cities and what is happening in them today, the word “gentrification” will certainly have bubbled to the top of your consciousness, usually in a negative context. There’s no question that as cities have regained popularity among more affluent and upwardly mobile Americans, gentrification – with its attendant ills of displacement and homogenization – can cause problems.

The story that isn’t told as much is the one about how many places aren’t being gentrified — the places where poverty is chronic and entrenched. According to a report on the nation’s largest metro areas from Impresa Consulting, of 1,100 census tracts with poverty rates in excess of 30 percent in 1970, 750 still had poverty topping that rate 40 years later.

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How proactive release of public records could help lower costs


The Sunlight Foundation released a piece last week on how proactively releasing open data helps lower costs associated with public records systems.

Proactively releasing public records flips the old system that required the public to ask for access to information.Proactive disclosure gives information to the public without requiring anyone to ask for it. It’s a key principle of open data and creates a foundation for better public records systems.

One of the big questions about transitioning to a practice of proactive public records disclosure is how it will affect costs.

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Hello, June: Popular In Chicago


Hope everyone has a great last day of May! Here are some of the popular conversations happening on EveryBlock this week.

What do you love about Avondale? (hint: the food)

Quick Tips on Combating Mosquitos

How to finally dispose of your Christmas Tree

Car burglaries on Hamilton

Help Catch a Bike Thief

A Perfect Starbucks Location in Lincoln Square

Have a good weekend everyone!


User Testing Civic Design


Open Plans recently put out a post on lessons learned from their recent testing and user research workshop – the idea being that as more and more open data becomes available, those who wish to package and deliver it to the public must understand who the core users will be and how they will use the data. Solid user testing and user research are an important part of that assessment – and here are some tips on how to do that.

What happens when you take 25 public and community servants, put them in a room with an authority on user research in the civic sector for a day, and ask them to make origami giraffes using flawed instructions?*

Last month, OpenPlans and Code for America convened a testing and user research workshop, with the goal of getting as many public sector participants as possible. Cyd Harrell, UX Evangelist for Code for America, led the workshop. Workshop participants came from the cities of Philadelphia, Bridgeport, CT, and New York.

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National Day of Civic Hacking

May272014 dayofcivichacking

This weekend is the National Day of Civic Hacking – on May 31 – June 1 people across the country will come together to develop new ways to use open data, code, and technology to help solve problems in our communities. Whether you have technical ability or not, there are events in 101 cities across the country to participate in. To view a list of events, check out

For example, the Open Data Challenge, which is sponsored by Code For America, involves utilizing census data to both determine which cities are open data friendly and to help cities become more data friendly.

How open is your city, actually? Give your city it’s open data report card. Review the accessibility and usability of your city’s open data with the US Open Data Census.

This is a great opportunity for attendees of varying technical ability to explore open data. Anyone with a laptop and a desire to make their city better can participate.

The National Day of Civic Hacking is planned in coordination with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and will be supported by a number of federal, state and local agencies.

Popular in Chicago: Memorial Day Edition


Happy Friday! We hope you’ve all got productive (or purposely non-productive) plans for the holiday weekend. Here’s a roundup of some of the popular EveryBlock threads of the week.

Rate your commute: Portage Park to Downtown

Logan Square Farmers Market, Open Once Again

The Portage Theater, (Re) Open Once Again

Proposed City Council Legislation Takes Aim at Flyers & Handbills

Moving to Ravenswood: Thoughts and Tips 

Now that summer’s approaching – Ready, Set, Garden

Have a great weekend everyone!


Chicago: City of Big Data


The Chicago Architecture Foundation has a free exhibit called “Chicago: City of Big Data,” about how data in Chicago is used to help improve communities and increase government accountability and transparency. Among other things, the exhibit shows visualizations of 311 service requests, Divvy bike statistics, housing statistics, and it showcases the benefits of aggregating and displaying data in a way that helps architects, planners, city officials, and others to make changes. One key question that the exhibit tries to help answer is “How big is big data?”

Did you know data has become a 21st century design material? Architects, planners, engineers and citizens increasingly use data to understand urban issues and spark design innovation. This explosion of digital information, known as “Big Data,” encompasses everything from data collected by environmental sensors to messages on social media. This new exhibition reveals the potential of urban data and offers a new perspective on Chicago and cities everywhere. Visitors can explore interactive displays, recreated sections of the city and get unique views into your own personal data.

It’s great to see traction and more participation in the open data and civic tech community, and EveryBlock is proud to play a role in helping people understand its value and importance.

To learn more about the exhibition, visit And the Chicago Tribune posted a video of the exhibit, which you can view here.


Smart Chicago’s Civic Works Project aids in health plan enrollment


Great article on the work between the Smart Chicago Collaborative and LISC Chicago to get people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act via an SMS app.

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act began in October 2013. Across the country, hundreds of agencies worked  to get everyone eligible enrolled. Smart Chicago and our longtime partner LISC Chicago, saw that there was an opportunity to make the outreach, enrollment and follow-up processes as smooth as possible and to use it as a springboard for sustained resident engagement for years to come. Through the use of the ACA SMS Outreach app, LISC Chicago was able to contact 27,000 residents leading to the enrollment of over 2,900 Chicagoans.

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