Have we been successful in maintaining a data service that conforms to the ideals of beauty we began with? The crime report data featured in Crimespotting is interesting, regularly eliciting mail from concerned residents and supporting a population of email alert subscribers several hundred strong. Crime is a serious issue for any urban resident, but it is especially relevant in a city with Oakland's reputation for trouble. Is our published data useful? We regularly hear from residents who use our news feeds and email alerts to stay abreast of neighborhood events or research new places to live. Are we sufficiently free or public? All site information is made available in a variety of forms suitable for a wide range of technical proficiency, from the simple daily mail subscription or spreadsheet to the more advanced news feed or XML-based API. The project has been a productive success, resulting in what we believe is a data service maximally useful to local residents.
The core lesson that we've learned through the creation and continued upkeep of Oakland Crimespotting has been a social and political one. City and government information is being moved onto the Internet to match the expectations of a connected, wired citizenry. With it comes the idea that "data is the public good," as explained by FortiusOne CEO Sean Gorman in a vital blog post early this year (http://blog.fortiusone.com/2009/01/28/data-is-the-public-good-data-is-the-infrastructure-data-is-the-stimulus/