This map of Baltimore Police Twitter followers may surprise you - Baltimore

Software Development

Jun. 11, 2015 12:01 pm

This map of Baltimore Police Twitter followers may surprise you

Dave Troy's latest social map shows who's interested in what the BPD is up to.
Dave Troy speaking at TED University, TEDGlobal 2014, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Dave Troy speaking at TED University, TEDGlobal 2014, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

(Photo courtesy of Ryan Lash/TED)

Dave Troy’s peoplemaps of cities have garnered interest around the world, taking the 410 Labs founder to present his data visualizations in countries like Bulgaria and Brazil.

Troy has been back stateside over the past few weeks, and he’s digging into specific Twitter accounts. Reflecting the conversation in his hometown of Baltimore and throughout the country, Troy started by mapping police departments.

The civil unrest that followed Freddie Gray’s death put Baltimore “on the map” for the moment, but the longtime tech entrepreneur recently told a crowd at Startup Grind that he believes the protests and riots exposed divisions that go back to the post-Civil War era. He believes the tech community has a place in addressing those root causes.

“I believe the reason that you should pursue entrepreneurship and the reason why you should try to be successful in such things is to try to render some sort of value back to your community,” he said in Baltimore. “I think there’s no better example than to look at what’s structurally broken here in Baltimore.”

Troy’s latest social maps show who is interested in what the police are doing.

In conjunction with a talk at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City last week, Troy released a visualization showing who follows the Baltimore City police department’s Twitter account.


There are groups like the local and national media, and other police departments. Right next to the other police departments, however, sits a group of “right-wing activists.”


With the social data he analyzes, Troy said he can point out some of the uncomfortable truths about who lines up with specific groups, and who is watching those Twitter accounts that have large numbers of followers.

“I can tell you all the warts around the communities of those followers,” he said.

Comparing peoplemaps also provides insight about how different communities with similar issues interact with their police departments. Troy noted the similarities in social structures between Baltimore and St. Louis in a pair of peoplemaps last year.

The followers around their police departments also look fairly similar, but Troy noted one difference. In Baltimore, there is a sizable group of young, black residents following the police department. In St. Louis, he said, “no such cohort seems to be detectable.”

peoplemaps of St. Louis police.

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