For privacy reasons, and reasons of access, probably, the crime reports don’t have names or mugshots, and those omissions may diminish the traffic that would result from more voyeuristic police-blotter-style updates. As a resource, though, this kind of project is the best kind of online feature that a news site can provide—a public service, online community builder, and a site traffic booster in one. That is, if people participate. Right now, it is just a data dump of incident reports, without providing much context. For it to have real journalistic value, some editorial involvement is necessary: reporters seeing the patterns in the data and following up on them to find stories in the numbers, for instance, or a filter for verifying and publishing the tips, photos and personal accounts that readers submit to supplement the raw data that’s up there now. Crime L.A. has a lot of potential; let’s see what people do with it.

*[Update: This post previously indicated that The Batavian was a Chicago-based site; it is located in New York. The error has been corrected.]

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Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner