For more than eight decades, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected nationwide crime data under the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. While the data has always been publicly available via static reports, the first release of the Crime Data Explorer makes it easier than ever for anyone to access and use the data.
Improved access to critical data
For decades, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected crime data from all over the country as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. Starting in August, 2017, the FBI began working with 18F to create a digital tool that provides law enforcement and the general public with improved access to the UCR data.
Becoming a digital organization
The UCR information has a huge potential audience including researchers, law enforcement officers, and the general public. 18F and the FBI team from the Criminal Justice Information Services office interviewed different types of users to find out how they use this data and focus the initial features to build before launching the site.
The result is the Crime Data Explorer, a new, interactive website that includes trend data, datasets for download, and an open API so the public can build tools using the data.
The site allows the FBI to reach a far broader audience, promote citizen engagement, improve resource allocation for communities, and will lead to more transparency and accountability within law enforcement agencies.
Agencies like the FBI often have strict security and privacy rules that can make offices hesitant to work and publish in the open. The FBI’s Crime Data Explorer not only publishes data in an open format, but the underlying code and team discussions are also public. This helped push the team to better meet the transparency and public service missions of their crime data program.
The process of working with 18F also helped the Criminal Justice Information Services office begin thinking about themselves as a digital organization. Beyond launching their first first open source, cloud-based app, the experience of creating a product with 18F has opened the door to new ways of working that will help modernize how the FBI builds and buys technology.