An Overview of the Police Data Initiative (PDI)
The Police Data Initiative is a national network designed to enhance understanding of crime and public safety and accountability between law enforcement and the community through open data. To date, over 130 law enforcement agencies nationwide, large and small, have joined this community of practice. In doing so, they are taking extraordinary steps to advance the field nationally, and build collaborative relationships locally to improve public safety.
Through this network, agencies learn from each other and adapt successful approaches from other jurisdictions to their own local priorities and conditions. Because the field of open data in policing is so new, participating agencies develop innovative approaches to using open data to deliver value to their communities and their own police forces.
In order to participate in the network, law enforcement agencies voluntarily commit to making unrestricted data easily available to the public, which may include data on crime, enforcement activity, training, department characteristics, community engagement, and more. The data is in an open format, allowing others to not only read the agency’s reports, but to access the data included in those reports to explore the issues on their own. Open data also allows community groups, the media, as well as the agency itself to analyze and make use of the data to identify potential problems, craft solutions, and improve their communities. The premise is that with a common base of shared information, non-profit organizations, community groups, and private companies can more effectively collaborate with police to tackle a community’s most pressing public safety challenges.
Participating agencies have collectively released more than 200 sets of data, representing crime, citizen calls for service, arrests and citations, police response to resistance, assaults on officers, citizen complaints, bicycle and pedestrian collisions, traffic stops, drug overdoses, agency training and workforce data, and more. The data is published and maintained by the local agencies themselves, so that it may be updated and shared directly with the local community.
A national website (policedatainitiative.org) provides a listing of all participating agencies and the datasets they have chosen to make available to their communities, and highlights the great work of participating agencies using data for civic engagement. The PDI national website does not maintain any agency data. It merely serves as a portal to data that participating law enforcement agencies have chosen to share.
The Police Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to advancing policing through innovation and science, is leading this national network, together with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), a professional association for law enforcement worldwide, and other partner organizations. The Police Data Initiative receives funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to support the work of the network and the agencies as they build stronger relationships with their communities.
The Police Data Initiative can be contacted by email at PDI@policefoundation.org.
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