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Baltimore towing data, visualized

A Hopkins genetics researcher is analyzing OpenBaltimore data on the side. Meet Mike Feyder.

A Delaware STEM Academy booth at a mall. (Photo via Facebook)

If you park your car near the University of Medical Center and North Charles Street, be extra cautious. After crunching and visualizing OpenBaltimore data, Mike Feyder found that those are two towing hotspots.
Feyder looked into the towing data as part of a recently-launched project called Baltimore: Byte-Sized. Along with where cars get towed, he also looks at where Baltimore’s six largest towing companies are hitching, and whether a vehicle was flagged for being stolen.

See the maps

Additional posts on the site, which Feyder began in August, dig into the salaries of city employees and arrests.
Feyder is a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins working in the Institute of Genetic Medicine. In that role, he works on generating and analyzing RNA sequencing data. When he found OpenBaltimore, he saw an opportunity to dig into civic data.
“It’s a great resource for raw data; however, the data can need cleaning, and the features provided to visualize and interpret the data can be weak,” Feyder said via email. Plus, he said, some of the data sets have 20,000-30,000 page views, indicating interest.
“I figured either a lot of people were crunching the numbers on their own or, unfortunately, they were only gaining a fraction of what could potentially be learned,” he said.
He said he is especially interested in geographic data. For the towing data, Feyder converted most of the street addresses provided in OpenBaltimore into latitude/longitude values, then plotted them over a city map. Then, the analysis began.

baltimore_towings_pts_w_nhood

Where vehicles were towed in Baltimore. (Courtesy image)

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