Dashboards Should be Up-to-Date

The point of data visualization dashboards is to examine up to date detailed information. The term “dashboard” comes from your car dashboard – knowing your speed a few minutes ago is quite worthless when you are driving.

Many crime analysis vendors offer services such as creating dashboards for your agency, but they are not automated to be up to date. For one example, Dallas PD has a dashboard on use of force information that displays (as of May 2023) data that is over a year old.

As a proof of concept illustration of creating a dashboard that has updated information, I have created a demo dashboard using Dallas’s open crime data. This uses various open source tools and open Dallas PD data to automate updating of the dashboard, so is at most a day old. Here is a screenshot gif in action:

GIF of dashboard interaction

So although Dallas PD has been in the news for decreasing crime trends due to hotspots policing, you can see they currently have an upward trend in motor vehicle thefts (consistent with many other agencies).

This isn’t to say you should always use a dashboard. Sometimes having a few weeks old data is fine, such as for a standardized report disseminated to the public. Also dashboards do not on their own generate automated alerts – it may be better to auto-identify an increasing crime trend, as opposed to having an analyst click around and hope they spot a noteworthy increase. Either way though, you should not rely on vendors that deliver a static, one time dashboard/report. You should get in contact with CRIME De-Coder to develop a truly automated report.

If you are interested in creating reliable and up-to-date dashboards with your own data, I encourage you to reach out to CRIME De-Coder to discuss what I can do for your agency.