From Crime Data to Parking Intelligence: Code for San Francisco is a Data Springboard

Jul 27, 2017   |   Bay Area Staff

What happens when great minds converge with the right technology at the right time?

Recently, we featured a project conceived at Code for San Francisco that used city data to geographically query crime data. sfcrimedata.org, the resulting portal, is an interactive site that allows users to inquire on crime incident reports based on neighborhood, address, or perimeter. That project is now a springboard for a new project on mapping transportation related data.

The transportation data project displays data from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which regulates parking and transit in the city. The SFMTA has a public process for discussing and deciding on regulations (such as curb cuts, and street signs). The SFMTA records these decisions in PDF documents, which are not machine readable and very often unable to translate across different software or hardware. Xtreet, an urban mobility and location data company, saw an opportunity here to extract the data for easier use. They parse the documents and put the resulting structured data into a searchable database.

Sergey Litvinenko of Xtreet, and regular Code for San Francisco participant, took the data parsing project further by working with the City of San Francisco to make the data available under the Public Domain Dedication and License. As part of that effort, the City’s open data program was able to provide additional attributes like project coordinates and neighborhood boundaries on the resulting dataset in San Francisco’s open data portal.

With data now easily accessible, a team at Code for San Francisco repurposed the SF Crime Data project code to map the resolutions of the various SFMTA regulations. This will allow users to search for the traffic regulation changes in their neighborhood as they develop. Users can search the map and locate different regulation resolutions represented by icons. Once they click on a particular resolution, they can see the new change; there are also links to the original resolution documents and meeting notes with all the details behind the regulation.

The project is exciting because it builds on prior success at Code for San Francisco and uses that engine of collaboration to see real benefits. In fact, when Litvinenko first showed the project to SFMTA team members, they were excited at the prospect of being able to point riders at an easier-to-search format. As the SFMTA gets a lot of public interest in the outcomes of the meetings, this project increases the discoverability of resolutions and documents and allows people to search in ways that are relevant to their interests.

From end to end, this project was enabled through collaboration among folks from private and public sector and volunteers. Code for San Francisco provides the physical and metaphorical space for people to come together and co-create in an open and transparent way. In this case, the project took previously inaccessible data and gave it new life through code reuse, open data, creativity and a little grit and determination.

This project can be found at https://sfmta.xtreet.org/resolutions-map.

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