Technological advances has increased connectivity of neighbors, but I’m still not satisfied with the ability of neighbors to track crime in Portland.

There’s some information posted on social networking platforms like Nextdoor and Facebook, but they’re un-curated and unfocused. Nextdoor is a tangle of package thieves, items for sale, and other (often interesting) but random posts. And you can’t trust Facebook’s selective algorithm to show you everything you want to see.

Portland Police update neighborhood-based crime stats monthly, but the individual incident, map-based Arc-GIS reporting system stopped being updated almost two years ago.  I’ve written about this before, back with the Arc-GIS system was brand new.

Compiling all this data can’t be simple, but neighbors are in the dark about what’s happening in their neighborhoods on a day-to-day basis. Even when the system was up and running, incidents that I knew were reported never showed up.

A recent article in the Portland Mercury said that the police are considering scrapping their three-year-old, $12 million dollar data collection system. In the budget submitted earlier this month, Portland Police Bureau is asking for $900,000 for what the article calls “unexpected costs” for the system, as well as $300,000 for a consultant to research a replacement system.

I don’t think we can wait for PPB to figure out their new system, nor should we rely on government or billion dollar companies to keep us informed and connected… so I’ve been working on a new app to crowd source the data.

It’s not ready to go live— I want it to be 100% reliable before I start accepting reports— but I wanted to get as much feedback as possible as we polish up the details.

The Village Reporter app is built in OpenStreetMap, a crowd-sourced mapping system maintained as an alternate to allowing a (different) billion-dollar company (Google) from being the sole repository our maps.

Neighbors will be able to sign up and post incidents on the map, as well as make comments on previous incidents. It’s a pretty simple interface, inspired by (now defunct) Nearly Killed Me and Waze to a lesser extent, but for incidents happening in your area.

When you first sign up, you’ll enter your name, email, and pick a user name. I think it’s important for people to identity verified, even if they don’t use their full name in their user name. I’m open to discussing this point.

Drag the blue pin to the location of your home or business (or whatever area you choose). When an incident is reported in your chosen area, you can be notified by email.

Click on the pin to see the discussion of the incident, and comment if you have specific information to offer.

The Village Reporter app is designed to share specific information about a specific incident, there are other venues to discuss wider issues.

As we polish the app’s details, I welcome feedback!


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