ABC Owned TV Stations Launch ‘Neighborhood Safety Tracker’ Interactive Websites

(Image credit: Thinkstock)

NEW YORK—As part of an effort to provide people with better crime and safety information in their neighborhoods, The ABC Owned Television Stations have launched a Neighborhood Safety Tracker interactive website and app that provides viewers with up-to-date crime and safety information tailored to each individual market. 

Using information collected from local police departments and state agencies, the Neighborhood Safety Tracker provides the latest crime data in the major cities community-by-community in each of the local markets ABC station group covers—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh-Durham and Fresno.

The information is designed to complement the daily public safety stories and in-depth special reports by ABC’s investigative journalists, the station group said. 

Using data gleaned from the public record, the ABC Owned Television Stations’ data journalism team reviews this data and produces stories that incorporate the data into breaking news stories and exclusive investigations. 

They also create interactive graphics and maps that enhance reporting on the news of the day, leading to more viewer engagement and important stories on the latest major crime figures where people live. The data is also compared to past trends impacting people’s lives and safety, ABC said. 

“The Neighborhood Safety Tracker is a groundbreaking news enhancement that delivers a reliable and essential view of safety where viewers live, providing more context for crime risk in cities and neighborhoods to help our viewers make informed decisions,” said Chad Matthews, president of the ABC Owned Television Stations. “News continues to be a top driver of engagement among our live TV viewers/subscribers. Our viewers have responded that being knowledgeable about crime trends in their area is essential in helping to protect themselves and their families and that their local TV stations are a trusted resource in keeping them informed and safe.”

The Trackers are part of a larger effort to use data to improve their reporting. 

ABC Owned Television Stations created its data journalism team in 2019, led by director John Kelly, a veteran investigative journalist with a history of award-winning data projects. He assembled a team of data reporters to be based in each of OTV’s newsrooms. The data team is made up of journalists with special training in data, statistics and computer programming.  Under his stewardship, there have been an increasing number of national investigations that the ABC Owned Television Stations team is developing with ABC News.

While the data used in the Neighborhood Safety Tracker is not proprietary, the code used by the data journalism team is proprietary to the ABC Owned Television Stations, the station group explained. 

The code repeats the work daily or weekly, whenever new records become available, so the Neighborhood Safety Tracker is always up to date as the latest reports and records are released. Overnight, programs run to continuously gather, analyze and rebuild the site every day. The result is a unique site for each market that provides viewer-friendly, searchable categories including homicide, theft, assault and burglary, among others. The data also provides hard facts about what is happening and where – information that can be used to hold police and local officials accountable, ABC reported. 

With the completion of the rollout of the Neighborhood Safety Tracker in all eight ABC Owned Television Station markets, the team will look to upgrade and expand to additional suburbs in the eight markets this year, the station group said. 

ABC also said that additional safety measures that are important to viewers, such as information on traffic accidents or safety lighting, may also be added at a later date. 

Neighborhood Safety Tracker available in the eight ABC Owned Television Station markets are: 

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.