Chattanooga Data Makes a Dent in Crime and Traffic

The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee has a smart, enthusiastic Open Data Specialist. Meet Melinda Harris. She see opportunities everywhere to grow the open data program, and appreciates the flexibility and possibilities available with the Socrata platform and solutions.

"One huge benefit of Socrata is that you're getting one dataset of data, it never changes, it's always there, and it's the truth,” says Harris. “It's almost 10-fold in terms of datasets being uploaded, downloaded, and viewed since we started a year ago."

And, citizens aren’t the only ones benefiting from the data being live. "It's very empowering for our Mayor. He's knows the data before the media is going to present it to him."

Plus, city staff save time they used to spend responding to one-off data inquiries. "Our citizens want the data and are not having to go through open records requests to get the information. It's getting presented to them."

Harris is a skilled data analyst who worked initially for Chattanooga’s police department looking at ways to reduce crime. "When you look at the work that I did with the police data, it has allowed them to them to do resource allocation of their patrols. You use your crime data and your traffic data, and you can actually perform DDACTS - Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety. We've been able to lower traffic crashes, as well as lower crime in those areas."

In particular, Harris’ number crunching helped place officers in a better spot to respond to crime. "We were able to some predictive analytics with the data. We were able to have officers on scene for shootings or major incidents within seconds rather than minutes."

To her core, Harris is a data enthusiast. "I wholeheartedly believe in running a data-driven department whether it is through private industry or through government. It needs to be run strictly through your data because that is the only way you can measure. And, measuring is the only way you can improve."

Is your city's open data program serving the needs of your government and community? Download Socrata's guide to discover 9 signs your open data program is on a successful path.