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December 23, 2009

Crime Rates Fall in the First Half of 2009

The FBI issued a press release on Monday 12/21/2009 declaring that crime rates had fallen across the board. The FBI has provided the data here.

There are lots of facts listed in the press release, but only one visualization. So, I took the data and built three visualizations for them.

Facts from the FBI found on the top left of this dashboard:
  1. Violent crime overall decreased 4.4 percent, property crime is down 6.1 percent, and arson fell 8.2 percent.

  2. Individual crimes are also decreasing across the board:

    - Murder (down 10.0 percent)
    - Forcible rape (down 3.3 percent)
    - Robbery (down 6.5 percent)
    - Aggravated assault (down 3.2 percent)
    - Burglary (down 2.5 percent)
    - Larceny-theft (down 5.3 percent)
    - Motor vehicle theft (down 18.7 percent)

On the upper left chart, I included Violent Crime and Property Crime; these are not on the FBI's chart. The crimes are sorted the way they are because they fall within the three major categories of violent, property crime and arson (The violent crime category includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault). I essentially added subtotals to combine facts 1 and 2 above into one chart.

On the bottom left chart I am displaying the crime rates changes in ascending order. This is more impactful to me.

On the right hand side, I have two charts:

  1. The first is a simply trend chart of the changes each of the last four years broken down by major category.

  2. I think the second chart tells more of a story though. In this chart, I'm showing the cumulative change across the years. This allows you to see the total change as you go across the years.

The top chart on this dashboard supports the following from the FBI:

  1. Murder was lower in all four regions of the country, with the largest decreases in the Northeast (13.7 percent) and the West (13.3 percent)

  2. Motor vehicle thefts decreased significantly in all four regions of the country (Northeast, 19.3 percent; Midwest, 21.4 percent; South, 17.8 percent; and West, 18.2 percent)

  3. On a regional basis, the only uptick in any crime was a slight increase in burglaries in the South (up 0.7 percent)

I'm not sure why they didn't mention it, but ALL categories of crime are down across ALL regions excluding the one uptick.

The bottom chart on this dashboard supports the following from the FBI:

  1. While violent crime and aggravated assault were down in cities of more than 1 million people (7.0 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively), in cities of populations between 10,000 and 24,999, violent crime rose 1.7 percent and aggravated assault rose 3.8 percent.

  2. While both metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas experienced decreases in violent crime and property crime in general, non-metropolitan counties saw increases in robbery (3.8 percent) and arson (1.2 percent)

For me, these two facts lead you to the question "So what?" I could have just as easily stated the first fact with the 50,000-99,999 population group. I feel like they're implying some type of significance to the population. However, the intent of most dashboards is to provide facts. The facts are the facts; it's the analysts job to analyze the dashboard and provide supplementary information.

The last set of data relating to major metropolitan areas (MSAs) is not directly referenced in the press release. Here's the dashboard:

Here are some points that jump out at me:

  1. Overall, about 2/3 of MSAs had a decrease in crime over the last year. However, the Central region had only one more MSA decrease in crime than those that increased. The Northeast region showed the most improvement in the number of MSAs that reported a decrease in crime (34 vs. 11).

  2. Minnesota improved at a rate nearly 3 times of second place North Carolina. On the other hand, Alabama's crime rate increased at a rate 2.5 times that of the second worst, South Dakota.

  3. Within MSAs, violent crime dropped 5.7% compared to 4.4% nationally. Property crime was about even comparing MSAs to the nation.

  4. The motor vehicle theft rate reduced dramatically across all MSAs in each region, with the overall decrease at 19.2%.

  5. Forcible rape, burglary and larceny theft in the Central region are the only crimes that increased.

Now, if this was supplemented with information about the steps that were taken that led to these decreases, then the FBI would really have a story to tell. For now, they're just reporting facts.

There are likely tons of other insights to be gleamed from this data. I'd love to see what you can come up with. Download the Tableau Packaged Workbook on my Google Group.

December 21, 2009

Cocaine: Are the number of addicts increasing?

The Guardian DataBlog is a great resource if you want to take random data sets and practice your visualization skills. One of the great aspects of this blog is that they provide all of the data; all you need to do is download them and start playing.

There was a blog post on December 3rd with the subtitle "Latest figures show more and more young people seeking treatment for cocaine addiction." The report in this post was concise and to the point: the number of people between the ages of 18-24 seeking treatment for cocaine use has skyrocketed between 2005 and 2009. I wanted to take their text-based summary and create visualizations (which is what they challenge their readers to do).

First, I wanted to understand the amount of drug use for all drugs.

A few observations quickly jump out:
  1. 70% of the addicts are being treated for opiates or an opiates/crack cocktail. This should obviously be the focal point for reducing addiction rates.

  2. It looks like there could have been some type of drug prevention or treatment program launched in 2006-2007. I would have to do some deeper research to find out, but this quick visualization leads you in that direction, which is exactly what rapid fire analysis is all about.

  3. Female drug use is at its highest between the ages of 18-24, while men seek treatment between the ages of 25-29.
In the visualization for cocaine use only, I wanted to duplicate exactly what the blog post stated.

The facts stated are:
  1. A total of 1,591 people in England aged 18-24 began receiving treatment for dependence for cocaine in 2005-06.

  2. That number has soared to 2,998 in 2008-09, a jump of 88%.

  3. The number of women in the 18-24 age group rose 80% (from 329 to 592) over the four years, while the number of men increased by 91% (from 1,262 to 2,406).

  4. Among under-35s, the number of women starting treatment has gone up 60% (from 790 to 1,261), while for men it jumped 75% (from 3,024 to 5,263).
I believe this visualization captures all of these effectively in one view. I made both of these interactive use Tableau. You can download the packaged workbook here.

If you have Tableau Desktop, then you can created your own views and I'd love for you to share them. If not, you can use the free Tableau Reader and interact with the data by simply clicking on the points of interest. Once you click, all of the other views will automatically refresh.

December 12, 2009

The Best Pie Chart Ever

No comments
This is so perfect!

The genius that created this said: "Needed to do a pie chart... so bought an apple pie at M&S, cut the percentages, and shot the pic. Pudding was served later with custard! ;-)"

Simple is better

1 comment
I've been critical of ChartsBin in the past, but this time I really like what they've done.

They produced a simple bar chart with a simple explanation of their findings: "Even with increasing restrictions on marketing, tobacco companies continue to compete fiercely for cigarette market share. Between 2004 and 2007, the top-selling brand changed in more than 22 percent of the countries surveyed."

I like their color choices...good color variation and no one color sticks out much more than another. I typically don't like anything flashy, but the mouse-overs are quite good.

Check it out.