Colin Drane believes the public should have access to crime data. That’s why, in 2007, the former Wilmington resident created SpotCrime, a nationwide portal for crime data.
James Spadola, a crime prevention and crime analysis officer with the Newark Police Department also believes that citizens can be better informed with access to crime data.
In October, Spadola and Drane bumped into each other at Technical.ly’s first-ever Rise conference — an event where hundreds of civic technologists and innovators met to discuss the future.
"With more communication and feedback, bad guys are hopefully either caught quicker or discouraged from committing crimes."
The two made a connection and Spadola agreed to send Newark Police crime data to Drane regularly.
“Making the data available helps reach more of the public, and as a result, helps the more-informed public reduce crime through community communication that includes feedback to the police,” Drane said. “With more communication and feedback, bad guys are hopefully either caught quicker or discouraged from committing crimes. And the community has a greater trust in their police force. That trust breeds better collaboration between the public and the police.”
SpotCrime sends out more than 9 million emails monthly to users, Drane said, making his free crime reporting tool one of the largest in the country. The free service can also be accessed through an iPhone app or through an Amazon Fire app.
For Drane, forming a connection with Spadola and the Newark Police Department had been something he was hoping to make for years, he said. Drane is happy more users in Delaware now have access to crime statistics in their neighborhood, he said — and hopes more communities in the state will sign on with what he’s doing.
“Our goal is to encourage all police departments to make the data open to everyone,” Drane said. “Then we can focus on being the best at delivering the data to the public. Right now, that’s about 10 percent of our time because the level of difficulty in getting the data is so high.”
Spadola said he appreciates having another avenue to broadcast crime data; the department already publishes crime data on Raids Online: Regional Analysis and Information Sharing — another outlet to find crime data from communities across the country.
“It’s just about putting information out to the public so people can be aware about what’s going on in their neighborhood,” Spadola said. -30-