I wrote a piece on my hyperlocal Kings Cross site on how data from the London Data Store showed a puzzling rise in ambulance call outs to assaults. In general crime is going down, but there was a strong upward trend in ambulances being called out to assault incidents. I asked people to check my data as I am not a statto. I tried to get a comment out of the police, but they went quiet on me – as I run a lot of articles supporting the police this was irritating.
The local paper the Islington Gazette rang me having seen my article. The Gazette had done some maths of their own and looked a the London Data Store site. The Gazette covers the whole borough (an urban area about five miles square), my site just one ward (a mile long, half mile wide). So the Gazette grew the story, got quotes from people across the borough and turned it into a bigger piece. They did get a quote from the police, despite having a generally ‘granny scaring’ approach to covering local crime. I am still waiting for the police to get back to me. The Gazette in their traditional rather sad way managed to giv me a quote but no link to my original article and no mention of the plucky Kings Cross website that made the story in the first place.
I also emailed BBC local TV to see if they were interested. I got the ‘it’s a bit too local to cover‘ (quote from email) response. However if they look at the data for themselves they will see that the trends across the whole of London are sharply up. Let’s wait and see.
Overall an interesting case study in how local data transparency can be used locally to bring some accountability to local public services and feed the mainstream traditional media.
Within minutes of posting this the police came back to me apologetically with a quote for the Kings Cross site and thanking me for my helpful quote in the Gazette (coincidence of timing I think). Nonetheless they still went to the Gazette with a quote some time before me.
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