LOS ANGELES, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Cal State LA researchers, in collaboration with the City of Los Angeles’ Data Team, have developed an interactive data visualization tool that helps residents understand crime trends in neighborhoods. The crime records were previously categorized by the Los Angeles Police Department’s reporting district, which did not align with neighborhood boundaries.

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“The Cal State LA team and [the city’s] Data Team transformed the data to analyze crime trends at the neighborhood level going back to 2010,” said Eva Pereira, chief data officer for the City of Los Angeles. “This is critical information that will help residents better understand long-term crime trends in their communities.”

The Cal State LA project is funded by PIC Math or Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Science. PIC Math is supported by the National Science Foundation and prepares mathematical sciences students for careers by engaging them in real world research problems.

“This project is another successful collaboration between my research group and the City of Los Angeles’ Data Team since the PIC Math program started in spring 2022,” said Jie Zhong, assistant professor of mathematics in the College of Natural and Social Science at Cal State LA. “Through the project, not only have our students gained skills in problem solving, critical thinking and communicating, but they’ve also delivered valuable scientific analysis to better serve our local communities.”

Using the city’s crime data reported between 2010 and 2022 in Los Angeles, Zhong and his students have created a web app that explores long-term crime trends of different neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

The app was developed using ArcGIS Online, a web-based mapping software, along with Socrata software, which provides data visualization tools to uncover business trends and predict statistical outcomes.

Led by Zhong, Cal State LA students Gui He, Harshil Kotamreddy, Alvin Lew and Alex Sherzai found from their study of the data that more serious violent crimes have increased on average at a rate of roughly 1,000 per year from 109,000 to 200,000 crimes reported. Violent crimes include homicide, arson and vehicle theft.

In particular, homicides have been on a downward trend from 2016 to 2019, going from 287 to 226 homicides. However, the results indicated that there was a significant spike in homicide in 2020 and 2021, when there were 335 and 380 homicides, respectively. The full report can be found online.

“Our main finding was that overall crime in Los Angeles decreased over the past decade, and especially during the pandemic,” said Kotamreddy, a math and computer science major. “However, we found an increase in homicides during recent years, which could be the cause of public sentiment that crime has been increasing in Los Angeles.”

Lew, a computer science major, shared that he enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with the L.A. City’s Data Team, acknowledging their support throughout the project.

He said, “Our team was highly interested in analyzing trends within our city, and the project’s practicality made for a great overall experience.”