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To Improve Safety, NYC Will Share NYPD’s ‘Traffic Stat’ Tool with the Public

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New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill have announced that the city will make TrafficStat—the NYPD’s tool for mapping and analyzing traffic collision data—available online to the public. It’s a major improvement over the city’s existing crash-mapping tool, but lacks one very important type of information: data about where police are enforcing traffic laws.

The TrafficStat site enables users to track crashes by location, going a few steps further than the city’s current Vision Zero View tool (which was modeled after San Francisco’s program that seeks zero vehicular and pedestrian fatalities). Collisions can be broken down by type, contributing factor day of the week, hour of the day, precinct and patrol borough. The data was previously available on New York City’s open data portal, but the TrafficStat site puts it in an easy-to-view format.

According to David Meyer, a reporter for Streetsblog.org, the NYPD has used TrafficStat to guide traffic enforcement efforts since the late ‘90s. City officials said that they want the public to see the role the tool plays in the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative.

“Anytime that we help the public see where there are particular problems, we make ourselves accountable in the process,” de Blasio said. “TrafficStat is about identifying times and places where we have persistent problem, and going at them. We want the public to see that in real time. We want the public to hold us accountable for the changes we have to make.”

Unfortunately, there’s still one glaring omission says Meyer, and that’s the data regarding summonses, including location and time of day. That level of detail on summonsing would enable the public to see how the NYPD enforcement correlates with dangerous locations, but it’s not currently available on the TrafficStat site—or anywhere else the public can see. For years, the NYPD has rebuffed efforts to make geo-tagged data on summonses pubic, and the mayor’s announcement doesn’t change that.

What do you think: Should more cities offer their traffic stats to the public?

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