MinnPost | Minneapolis City Pages
Last month, MinnPost released an interactive application that shows Minneapolis’ monthly crime data. The reason the publication chose Minneapolis as opposed to St. Paul? Its richer data.
Minneapolis released its data in a “structured format,” i.e. Excel spreadsheets including location data that Minnpost could pull into its application (the process was not without issues, MinnPost’s Kaeti Hinck and Alan Palazzolo write in a post explaining how they built the app).
But when it came time for the department to release its August data, the Minneapolis Police Department announced that “Do to issues with the Excel formats we will no longer be posting them.” It released August’s data via the far-less-vacuumable format of PDF.
MinnPost scraped the PDF to update the app with August data, director of news technology Hinck told Poynter in an email, and a police spokesperson promised to look into the department’s decision. Wednesday evening, MinnPost reported the police’s reasoning: “The crime stats are subject to being corruptible in an excel sheet,” the police told the publication.
They have been changed in the past by persons unknown and this affects the veracity of the original data posted. If stats are posted on-line in a PDF format, this reduces the risk of contamination. Note if data was kept on a SQL, the data could be viewed, manipulated and accessed by many and yet keep original and intact. This is cost prohibited and will not be pursued. Effective immediately the stats should just be posted in a PDF format.
“Data in any format can be manipulated; it is up to the source, in this case the MPD, to confirm the accuracy of the data,” Palazzolo and Hinck write.