by Anneli Rufus
After three agonizing months of being blocked and unviewable, the amazing interactive map-viewing site Oakland.Crimespotting.org - whose creators at San Francisco-based Stamen Design tell us, "If you hear sirens in your neighborhood, you should know why" - is back online. It lets users see exactly where and when recent crimes of various kinds (labeled AA on the map for aggravated assault, Ro for robbery, SA for spousal abuse, etc.) have happened in Oakland.
A letter from designers Michal Migurski, Tom Carden, and Eric Rodenbeck arrived last night explaining that the site is back "thanks to the generous help of Oakland's City Information Technology Department ... we've been granted a reliable, regularly updated source of crime report information. This is great news: It means that the website is back up and running with current information, e-mail alerts and RSS feeds work again, and we at Stamen Design can explore new ways of presenting and publishing this important information. ...
"We are also interested in what additions to the site you would find useful or interesting. So far, we've had a number of suggestions that we're actively looking into: spreadsheet-friendly downloads, details on individual police beats, a search function, and more than one month's worth of data."
They ask that suggestions be sent to email@example.com.
"Our return," the Stamen guys write, "would not have been possible without the help of a few key people. Ahsan Baig, Ken Gordon, and Bob Glaze at Oakland City IT built and published a source of information for us. Ted Shelton, Charles Waltner, and others helped us navigate the difficult waters of City Hall communications. Jason Schultz, Ryan Wong, Karla Ruiz, and Jeremy Brown at U.C. Berkeley Law School helped us understand how to best approach city governments for information. Kathleen Kirkwood and Pete Wevurski at The Oakland Tribune helped us understand the journalistic context of the project. Dan O'Neil and Adrian Holovaty at EveryBlock.com were a valuable sounding boards for ideas."
It takes a village to help you crimespot from the convenience of your own laptop or cubicle.— Anneli Rufus