Monday, September 29, 2008

Interesting online databases

Many interesting online databases are found in and it is amazing how much important information one can get through them.

I found a few that draw my attention more than others. One of them is Homicide map in 2007 database.

I was amazed to know that not fare from my new neighborhood there has been many homicides in the past year. I also noticed that among all the murders in year 2007 in Boston, about 90% of them were shootings. I like the fact that the graphics show very clearly in a map the areas of the murders and there is a distinction by colors to point out the method of killing, being shooting pink, stabbing blue and vehicular homicide yellow.

On the other hand I consider there is a lot of information missing in the map, like the exact number of shootings, stabbings and vehicular homicides in year 2007. The map allows to know where the majority of murders took place and through the colors which "type" of murder weapon was involved in most murders in a visual way, but does not mention the numbers.

Many questions come to my mind from this database for a story. Why are the murders concentrated in one area of Boston and why doesn’t the police reinforce its presence in that area? Why are there so many shootings, is it easy to get a gun in Boston? And if not, how do the murderers get the guns? Comparing to other years are the murders in Boston increasing or decreasing and why? Comparing to other cosmopolitan cities, how is Boston in its homicide rank, is it too high? I think that as Matt Caroll mentioned in class, searching other databases and asking the right people, a good story will come up from any information that answers these questions.

I also like the fact that it provides links to related sites such as Boston Police updates and how to report a crime in Boston.

The other one I found very interesting is the one that provides the Census results of the increase of the population of massachussets cities and towns.

Important facts about the state are available in it, such us the increase and decrease of Massachusetts cities population. It mentions for instance that Danvers in the North Shore is the one with the biggest growth in their community in year 2006-2007. I would search for a database of census from previous years in the state, and would look for the city that has had the biggest constant growth in its population and would do a story on what is going on in that city that makes people so eager to make babies.

I was also impressed by the online services you get through the My neighborhood section, besides getting access to every information you might need about your neighborhood you can also access pretty much anything that applies as citizens duties and services. From paying parking tickets to get a permit to film in Boston, everything is online so there thanks to this site there is no need to leave the house in order to go through those bureaucratic procedures anymore.

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