How did you us the data set(s) in your Submission?
The data set is geographic. It is the same data set that powers the Illinois Safety Data Mart but I obtained the raw form and imported to a PostGIS-enabled PostgreSQL database.
What problem/challenge is your Submission helping to solve, and how?
There are two issues: 1) The Illinois Safety Data Mart is not very accessible and has some usability issues. 2) Many cities have stated goals to increase the number of people engaged in walking and bicycling for transportation yet the lack of accessible traffic safety data hinders effective decision making regarding where infrastructure upgrades should be made or where education should be targeted.
What community members will your Submission help serve, and how will they be impacted?
Residents – They already know where the problems are but sometimes they need the data to back them up when they walk into the elected officials office to request infrastructure investments that make walking and cycling a safer transportation mode.
City council members/elected officials – These members are in control of budgets and sometimes discretionary funds. Some are interested in improving the built environment to make walking and cycling safer and more convenient.
Urban planners – They are interested in making the right investments in infrastructure, where they will have the highest effect on reducing injuries for those already walking and cycling, and building new infrastructure where it will have the highest effect on encouraging people to take up walking and bicycling for transportation.
Health advocates – These community members are interested in reducing obesity in children, which can be reduced through increased walking and bicycling, especially to school. Yet many schools don’t allow this mode of transportation. If we can identify the problem locations, we can intervene with targeted infrastructure improvements and education outreach.
How do you envision city and/or state government utilizing your Submission to make a positive impact on the Pilot Community of State of Illinois?
I’ve got two ideas for this. The first is pie in the sky: because my project is open source and anyone can use it, I imagine that the Illinois Department of Transportation would contribute some of its programmers to the task of improving the Crash Browser, and encourage Metropolitan Planning Organizations and cities to do the same, towards the goal of building it to a level where it can replace the Illinois Safety Data Mart. With constant attention from programmers, the Crash Browser/Safety Data Mart can evolve as needs change or new needs are discovered.
The second, more realistic idea is that more people – mostly elected officials in the state – will have a quick, accessible resource to find traffic safety information for their districts, on the fly, during meetings, or even on their smartphones. With this kind of access, they will have accurate information at the moment they need it. It gives them the same information that the department has and can level the playing field so that no single entity is in control of disseminating the information. (During one speed camera debate in the City of Chicago, many aldermen received, for the first time, data about traffic safety in their ward.)
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