Following a call to action from the White House for more transparency in city operations, Orlando is unveiling a database which city leaders hope will empower residents.
Orlando is one of 30 law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to participate in the data initiative, which will show everything from police calls to building permits. "We want this information out there,” said Orlando Police Chief John Mina. “We want to remain transparent."
The city’s open data website, which will roll out in March, will be the first in the country to include domestic violence and sexual assault data as well.
On Wednesday, a mixed group -- domestic violence advocates, city leaders, police officers and tech experts -- joined in the Church Street Exchange to learn about the database. They participated in workshops, discussing how aggregating such data, then releasing it to the public, could improve safety in the City Beautiful.
"I don't know if we've ever done anything quite like this in our community before,” commented Mayor Buddy Dyer, speaking of the collaboration.
The site will aggregate data about assaults, leaving out confidential information, such as names and addresses. Instead, it will provide general information, such as race and gender, neighborhoods and times of day in which assaults happen, which can be looked at as trends. Those assessments, leaders said today, will help police and victims’ advocates focus their resources.
"We'll go around and try to raise awareness, specifically in that neighborhood, because of this data,” said Mina.
"It allows us to take a deeper look at crime victimization, which in the future will help us prevent it,” added Shelley Rodgers, who works for the Victim Service Center of Orlando.
Each day, the Orlando Police Department responds to around eight domestic violence calls, they said. But, never before has there been a comprehensive database available for public use.
According to the City, the database will cost $20,000 each year to run; the cost is related to backend work and running the site. The city’s IT fund will pay for the database.