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August 2016

Community Takes Commitment (Part 3)

This is the third and concluding section to the three-part series of Detroit Crime statistics, causes and potential solutions. Microsoft’s Civic Tech Fellow Ivoire Morrell shares a powerful story of the history, economic impact and future narratives of Detroit’s most economically depressed communities. It is our hope that by shining a spotlight on the raw data, and illustrating the potential impact on Detroiters, that we can together build a stronger future.

In our last two discussions, we looked at Detroit Crime data and compared Detroit to other similarly sized cities. This discussion will focus on creative approaches to tangibly change Detroit’s impoverished neighborhoods, starting where the crime statistics are the most challenging.

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My solution (presented on the visual above) to decrease the crime and improve the economy of Detroit is simple: cultivate urban communities. The data shown on this visual is from the motor city mapping dataset. Table 4.1 (Top-Left) displays the number of unoccupied non-residential buildings in Detroit by neighborhood, with Harmony Village having the most unoccupied non-residential buildings at 253. Table 4.2 (Top-Right) shows the number of unoccupied homes in Detroit by neighborhood, with Conner (2,325) having the most unoccupied residential properties. Table 4.3 (Bottom-Left) displays employee statistics by zip code in Detroit. This chart presents the number of employees, the annual payroll, and the number of establishments per zip. Table 4.4 (Bottom-Middle) displays a chart of all of the unoccupied nonresidential properties in the city of Detroit, which includes the address of the property, structure type, neighborhood, and the condition of the building. Table 4.5 (Bottom-Right) displays a gauge visual that compares the estimated total population of Detroit with the estimated population total that live in poverty (indicated by the red target marker). The unoccupied property list (Table 4.4) is where the rebuilding process should begin. Unoccupied non-residential properties are potential building blocks that can be used to fuel economic, technological, social, and mental breakthroughs for impoverished communities in Detroit. With strategic planning – well positioned businesses, development centers, schools, medical centers, and other developmental institutions – internal liberation of citizens and external growth can be brought to fractured communities.

In order to effectively use the unoccupied non-residential properties in the city of Detroit as pillars to initiate change, two types of buildings/institutions should be strategically placed in impoverished, high crime communities: internal liberators and external generators.

By internal liberators, I am referring to infrastructure/institutions that promote the internal growth of citizens who have suffered far too long from living in the neglected urban communities in Detroit. Internal liberators function as support systems to help overcome internal struggles caused by the broken environments. These include, but are not limited to counseling centers, drug rehabilitation centers, skills development centers, and other facilities that target the personal development of citizens. In order to reconstruct an outer reality, change must come from within. Internal liberators also help with the professional development of citizens by equipping them with skills to achieve employment, particularly in fields of high demand.

By external generators, I am referring to businesses, organizations, and other institutions that promote healthy environments for citizens living in impoverished communities. External generators function as forges for long-term communal cohesion. Building hospitals, schools, libraries, community centers, and other facilities will bring positive socio-economic growth in these neighborhoods. New start-ups, tech companies, community owned grocery stores, construction businesses, and other forms of enterprise should be planted in these empty locations to give the citizens opportunities for employment in well paid, highly-demanded fields. Gardens, parks/playgrounds, greenhouses, artworks, and other outdoor establishments should be brought to each community as well. A visually stimulating landscape helps promote positive thinking and gives the community positive energy.  Investing money to promote internal growth of citizens and the external growth of the environment they live in raises the morale of the citizens living in the communities. In turn, this promotes economic growth through new job opportunities, decreases crime, and ultimately makes Detroit a more desirable place to live.

The best example of internal liberators and external generators working together to bring positive change is in Downtown Detroit. The economic advancement and growth of Downtown Detroit over the past decade has simply been amazing.  “Billions in investments” have been put into the development of downtown Detroit making it place where “where more people” want to live, “more people work and more people see potential for profits” (Gardner). Some of the most recent projects that have and will serve as external generators in Downtown Detroit include the “$1.2 billion plan by Olympia Development Co. to complete a new Red Wings arena” along with new office, housing, hotel and retail space”, “$950 million estimated for future riverfront development”, “$2.2 billion in property investment by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Real Estate”, “$279 million” toward the  “renovation of Cobo Center” and “an estimated $2 billion in investment” towards the redevelopment of Midtown (Gardner). Downtown Detroit has also seen an increase in other external generators like restaurants (378, an increase of 77 from 2013), outdoor dining cafes (81, an increase of 32 from 2013), and retail stores (352, an increase of 41 from 2013) (Gardner). The increase of external generators has led to an estimated 58,000-person surge in the neighborhood’s workforce (Gardner).

Downtown Detroit is also home to internal generators like the Detroit Training Center; a cultivating organization that focuses on the enrichment of communities, families, and individuals through initiatives that improve “urban education, foster personal growth, and support training/employment initiatives for adults” (Detroit Training Center). The Downtown Detroit Partnership serves as an internal generator by “supporting advocates and developing programs and initiatives designed to create a clean, safe, and inviting Downtown Detroit” (Downtown Detroit Partnership). Companies like Grand Circus Detroit serve as internal generators by teaching individuals the art of computer programming through 10-week boot camps that equip them with the necessary skills to achieve employment in high demand technical fields. Businesses like Bizdom serve as internal generators by “helping entrepreneurs launch, fund and grow innovative, web and tech-based startups” which eventually lead the entrepreneurs to becoming external generators through being able to provide employment opportunities to applicable candidates (Oppourtunity Detroit).

The combination of the external generators and internal generators has made downtown Detroit a thriving foundation of economic and social development. More jobs are being created and more people are being educated, making downtown a flourishing facility of hope for Detroit. In context to the discussion, the development of Downtown Detroit has coincided with a sharp decline in crime in the area. Between 2009 and June 24, 2016, 5,494 crimes (excluding miscellaneous and sexual crimes) have been reported in downtown Detroit. When you compare this number to some of the other neighborhoods in Detroit, it presents a stark example of how the economic development of a neighborhood can impact the crime in the community.

When resources are poured into a community to help generate employment, personal growth, socio-economic growth, and environmental advancement, citizens are ingratiated in world full of internal and external growth. The ambiance of this environment creates not only a plethora of opportunities for citizens to escape the claws of poverty through making a better living, but also a sense of hope for a brighter future (along with better policing systems). The mental metamorphosis from psychological discouragement to psychological encouragement combined with the environmental alteration from community scarcity to community prosperity creates an environment were using crime as a method of survival begins to diminish. While the heart of the city (Downtown) should continue to receive funding to increase economic growth, initiatives with the same diligence must be nurtured in neighborhoods that need it the most. Imagine how much could be changed if a similar level of investment that occurred in Downtown went towards bringing more internal liberators and external generators to disadvantaged Detroit communities.  Lives and communities would be greatly impacted.

To initiate the process, a meeting of minds – government officials, investors, community leaders, creators, and innovators – should take place to take stock of the statuses of Detroit’s many neighborhoods. Each community must have legitimate representation at this meeting in order to talk about the specific needs of each neighborhood. After a thorough deliberation and strategic planning – cost/expenses, and other viable information has been discussed – collaborators can begin to map out where to place different facilities based off the unoccupied non-residential property list. As more money is invested into urban development, more jobs will be created and communities will become safer to live in. This will result into more people being able to become homeowners and also cause more families to move back to Detroit, which will lower the amount of unoccupied residential properties and improve the city’s tax base.

To help provide additional funds for broadening the rebuilding process, government officials can start by cutting the costs of developing prison systems and reinvest those funds directly into communities. By placing more money into development of better communities, instead of prison systems, more opportunities are created for citizens to escape the grasp of poverty. Having establishments in place to help improve the personal, professional, and economic development could ultimately result in less crime. We do not need more prisons or prisoners; we need more scholars, educators, and self-sufficient citizens who can be integral parts of a rebuilding community. The system in impoverished communities seems, in my opinion, as if it is designed to create deprived citizens who are forced into a life of crime due to lack of opportunity for social and economic advancement. This system must be changed if Detroit wants to become the city that it is destined to be.

When the redevelopment of urban communities begins, the city should track the changes in crime based off economic growth. If the Rebuild Urban Detroit initiative leads to decrease in crime, it could serve a potential blueprint for how to decrease crime in other cities. The city should track the amount of internal liberators and external generators placed in each community, how much money is placed in each community, and gather information from different communities to learn more about how citizens feel regarding the changes being made. If a city like Detroit, which has been plagued with high crime, can decrease its crime through helping rebuild the economic and social infrastructures of urban communities, it would give other cities hope that if similar principles are applied, crime will decrease as well.

Placing an emphasis on the social and economic development of impoverished communities gives citizens a chance to escape the pitfalls of the environments in which they live. Facilitating development in fractured communities can promote economic growth and social/educational advancement, decrease the amount of crime, and give citizens hope for a positive change. When I think about the city of Detroit, I cannot help but think of the phrase: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:31). The failure of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is the root to many of the problems that exist in America today. Step inside the shoes of a citizen struggling to make ends meet; attempt to feel the blues of a battered and bruised individual with nothing to lose, whose picture painted on the news is so often misconstrued. Imagine waking up every day not knowing if it’s your last because the environment you live in is plagued with violence and a lack of opportunities for positive growth. Whether you accept it or not, the data clearly shows that this is the reality many Detroiters face every single day. Until people who are in a position to extend their hand to those who need it the most and treat those with the same love that they expect to be treated with, the world will remain in a state of disarray. While there are a plethora of problems that must be addressed in order to induce positive change, placing a focus on cultivating deteriorating urban communities will have a huge impact on raising the morale of all citizens and could contribute to a decrease in crime. When individuals who are greatly suffering start to receive the love and support from those who have the power and resources to change the city, it has the potential to ignite change that will greatly benefit the city of Detroit.

For more information on the data shared in this report, visit the link below to view more data on crime in the city of Detroit


Bibliography

Brand-Williams, Oralandar. The Detroit News. 25 April 2016. 6 July 2016.

Detroit Training Center. About Us. 2016. 25 July 2016.

Downtown Detroit Partnership. 2014. 27 July 2016.

Gardner, Paula. How downtown Detroit has transformed since the Super Bowl 10 years ago. 4 February 2016. 25 July 2016.

Ghosh, Palash. Detroit, Michigan: Crippled and Paralyzed by the Recession. 5 September 2011. 6 July 2016.

Mahler, Jonathan. G.M., Detroit and the Fall of the Black Middle Class. 24 June 2009. 6 July 2016.

Oppourtunity Detroit. Working Hard in the D. 2016. 25 July 2016.

Suburban Stats. Population Demographics for Detroit, Michigan in 2016 and 2015. 2016. 6 July 2016.

Thompson, Heather Ann. Inner-City Violence in the Age of Mass Incarceration. 30 October 2014. 6 July 2016.

US Census Bureau. Amarican Fact Finder. 2016. 6 July 2016.

Community Takes Commitment (Part 2)

This is the second in a three-part series of Detroit Crime statistics, causes and potential solutions. Microsoft’s Civic Tech Fellow Ivoire Morrell shares a powerful story of the history, economic impact and future narratives of Detroit’s most economically depressed communities. It is our hope that by shining a spotlight on the raw data, and illustrating the potential impact on Detroiters, that we can together build a stronger future.

On the third visual of the Detroit Crime statistics report (displayed below), I conducted an analysis of the cities Detroit, Denver, Seattle, El Paso, and Washington DC; all are cities that have populations between 600,000 – 700,000.  The goal was to gain an understanding about how economic factors can influence crime rate. The year 2014 was used because it is the most up-to-date crime data set on the FBI’s crime statistics website pertaining to the different cities mentioned above. Also, this dataset only includes major crime fields as opposed to the dataset used in the first part of the series, which included all reported crimes in Detroit (excluding miscellaneous and sexual crimes). Comparing the crime rates and economies of cities with similar populations gives the most accurate analysis of how these two factors may correlate.

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Figures 3.1 and 3.2 (Top-Left/Top-Right) compare major crime totals of Detroit, Denver, Seattle, El Paso, and Washington DC. Detroit led in 6 out of 7 major crime categories including: aggravated assault (9,191), burglary (9,177), motor vehicle theft (10,083), robbery (3,570), murder/non-negligent manslaughter (298), and rape (557). The bottom three graphs depict the reason why I believe crime may be perpetrated more in Detroit compared to the other cities: fractured economy; an economy that remained overly dependent on its established workforce infrastructure instead of focusing on future economic and workforce development, causing a high demand in newer fields of employment as the market changed, but a low supply of applicable workers to fill the positions. The lack of future-focused economic and workforce development leads to shrinkage of applicable jobs as the established economy diminishes, making it increasingly difficult for people to find employment, which subsequently lodges more individuals into impoverished living due to lack of applicable employment.

Figure 3.3 (Bottom-Left) shows the median household income of the five cities. Detroit had the lowest median household income at roughly $26,000 and Washington DC had the highest at roughly $72,000. Figure 3.4 (Bottom-Middle) shows a scatter plot comparing the segments of the population living in poverty (by percentage) in each city. With the 2nd largest population at an estimated 669,071, Detroit’s poverty rate was 18 percentage points higher compared to the next similar sized city (over 100,000 more citizens living in poverty). Figure 3.5 (Bottom-Right) displays the percentage of people living in poverty in each city, with Detroit having the highest rate at 39.3%. The data shows that fractured economies could have a major influence on the rate of crime.

The fractured, unbalanced economy, in my opinion, is the biggest reason why crime is so prevalent in Detroit. “Once the capital of the U.S. auto industry, Detroit has been crippled by the closing of factories, falling home prices, the exodus of tens of thousands of residents, rampant violent crime and massive poverty” (Ghosh). Graduating high school and going to work for one of the big three (GM, Chrysler, Ford) was once the norm for many in Detroit. Working in the factories allowed many Detroiters to become homeowners, earn great wages, and become affluent middle class citizens.

The job market in Detroit took a steep shift January 2007 after over 50 years of consistent decline with the beginning of the Great Recession. With the closing of factories and other local businesses came a rise in unemployment. In 2007, the unemployment percentage (for workers 16 and up) in Detroit was 21.6% (US Census Bureau). By 2014, the unemployment rate in Detroit grew to 27.1% (US Census Bureau). With the rise in unemployment came the rise in poverty with 32.5% living in poverty in 2007 to 39.3% living in poverty in 2014 (US Census Bureau). The Great Recession left many Detroiters unemployed and without the necessary skills to apply for employment in other fields. With lack of income and difficulty finding employment, many Detroiters were left and still remain in a state of financial insufficiency. Do to this state of financial desolation, some citizens turned to crime as a method of survival to escape impoverished living.

When crime is seen as the way of escaping the harsh reality of impoverished living, the social, economic, and psychological advancement of a community is severely crippled.  First and foremost, higher crime rates lead to higher incarceration rates. On the East Side of Detroit alone, “1 out 22 adults are under some form of correctional control, amounting to an annual cost of over 45 million” (Thompson). Once incarcerated, prisoners are not set up for rehabilitation. Rather, they are cultured to depend on the system even upon their release from correctional institutions. Chances at finding employment are stifled simply because a criminal record renders a candidate as “dangerous” and “unemployable”, especially if the potential candidate is African American (Thompson). With limited options to earn income, many go back to a life of crime for survival, eventually leading them back to incarceration i.e. recidivism. Some even commit crimes purposely because they would rather be in prison where they at least have food/shelter rather than be on the streets homeless and starving. This vicious cycle repeats itself in broken, impoverished communities throughout the United States, leaving individuals hopeless, heart-broken, and desperate for survival.

From viewing the crime and economic statistics from Detroit, Denver, Seattle, El Paso, and Washington DC, there appears to be a strong indication that a fractured economy leads to greater crime. At $25,769, Detroit had the lowest median household income of the five cities, which was $15,452 less the 2nd lowest city El Paso ($41,221). Detroit also had 262,767 citizens (2/5) living in poverty, which was approximately 115,200 than the next closest city, El Paso, which had one-fifth of its citizens living in poverty. The economic woes create an environment where crime can flourish. Detroit had 5,187 more aggravated assaults, 2,078 more burglaries, 4,569 more vehicle thefts, 339 more robberies, 193 more murders, and 87 more rapes then the then 2nd closest city. Fractured economies create destitute environments for citizens, especially in urban neighborhoods with lack of economic development, which eventually leads to communal destruction.

Stayed tuned for the third and concluding part of the series, where I will present my potential solution to the economic problems going on in Detroit, specifically in urban communities, which could lead to a stronger economy and lower rates of crime.

CUTGroup Week 4

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Hello Detroiters, and a big how-are-you to our CUTGroup family. Unfortunately this is our last story in our recruitment journey this summer. So walk with us on this final trip as we ventured into the second half of Downtown Detroit to recruit for CUTGroup. For the second time, it was myself, Ivoire, and Christon. On this particular day, it seems the very cosmos did not want us to finish strong. In fact, my baby toe was tingly in the morning as I got ready to go to work and this let me know I had to prepare for a dramatic day at work. Just the day before, Ivoire had informed me that the other street team members could not make it. As I got to work on Friday morning, I received a text from him saying that the printers at Microsoft were malfunctioning, and so he had to print 40 flyers at a time or else the printer would jam. Secondly, it was hot outside. I had just done my hair that morning and nothing in the world was about to ruin the luxuriousness that was my hair that day whether rain or sweat… but I forgot to take an umbrella with me, a very fatal mistake.

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Another incident was that we got lost going to the location where we were supposed to rendezvous with Christon. We made a turn by this southern food restaurant and it smelt so good my stomach decided it didn’t want to do recruiting anymore; my mind was telling me it was lunch time even though it was 10:30am. Finally, after roaming the city for ten more minutes we finally arrived at the roof parking lot at the COBO center which was so hot my edges gave up too. Christon had been waiting for us so long that she was a quarter of a century old when we arrived. As we moved through the COBO center, we almost got security called on us for “soliciting” permission from the head of marketing to advertise CUTGroup. Someone clearly has a grudge with technology. Someone get them some milk and an iPhone.

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Within moments of us leaving the COBO center, my hair started taking the “L” as the rain started drizzling. This prompted us to rush into one of the buildings where we met with a representative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan who gladly accepted our fliers and the role of promoting CUTGroup. Things were starting to look up for us now. Next was Inforum Engage whom were also eager to support the initiative. But for the most part, these were the two partners that we had access to in this area of Downtown Detroit. With the threat of rain looming we quickly headed over to the Coleman Young Municipal Center to meet up with Garlin Gilchrist, the City of Detroit coordinator for the CUTGroup initiative. It was great to see one of our major partners and even have them share their goals for CUTGroup and what their vision is for the greater Detroit region.

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From meeting Garlin, we decided to acquaint ourselves with the Joe Louis fist statue and get cover pictures for my mixtape dropping in 2020 as I stand alongside Kanye West’s presidential campaign. Check out my discography at www.boknowsfire.com. Be sure to turn on the A/C or put your phone and speaker into the freezer so you don’t burn anything including yourself when you play anything on there. Simply put, if they had played my music on the titanic the iceberg would have melted leaving Jack and Rose to live happily ever after. All this activity culminated to us having lunch at “The Drive” the only Ping-Pong and dine place in Detroit. Ivoire and Christon got that work, and I emerged as the undisputed CUTGroup Ping Pong champion. Challengers are welcome, everyone can get this work… and overtime too. After a filling lunch, we headed back to our vehicles to bring the last day of recruiting to an end.

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What did we learn? Over the past 4 weeks, we had the privilege of going to different places in the city, meet many faces, and got to tag the CUTGroup brand in a number of spaces. Each of us made lifetime connections not only with people in the street team, but with people in the various communities that we interacted with. Detroit has changed each one of us in many ways and we will continue to strive towards making the city better. Team work makes the dream work. All our partners in the city were pivotal in ensuring that the initiative went as well as it did. Persistence is key to making any change in society, and in the midst of adversity we kept pushing through. All-in-all outreach was a great experience that we wouldn’t mind doing over again. And the most important lesson, umbrellas are essential in Detroit if you truly value your hair.

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We would like to take this time to thank all the people who have signed up to be testers. CUTGroup Detroit is nothing without each and every one of you. We hope that you recruit your friends, family, co-workers, and anybody you see out in these streets… let them get this work too. Secondly, we would like to thank our blog readers and sharers for sticking with us for the past weeks and keep posted for more from the CUTGroup team. Thirdly, thank you to all the social media followers, retweeters, likers, and reposters. We keep reaching more people through your efforts. To our sponsors and partners; Microsoft, SmartChicago, City of Detroit, and Data Driven Detroit – thank you for putting this initiative together. The fabulous street team gets the biggest shout-out for being there day one, and a super special shout-out to Christon Marie for sticking through with it until the last day. Your photography skills were nothing less than superb.

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Apply Now: Research Analyst @ Data Driven Detroit!

d3-job-announcement

Apply by August 31, 2016!

What: Data Driven Detroit is seeking an experienced and energetic applicant to super-charge our research capacity in the role of Research Analyst. This is a full-time position, working 40 hours per week. D3 provides an attractive benefits package, including paid vacation and personal time; access to group health, dental, and vision insurance; a 401(k) profit-sharing plan; and eligibility for paid sabbatical leave.

Why: At D3, we exist as a data utility for the Southeast Michigan region, and research is a critical piece of the services we offer to our partners. While we enjoy sifting through spreadsheets and making maps, we also understand that there are times when the data hides additional insights that require more in-depth analysis to tease out. If you’re selected for this job, you’ll join a fast-paced, dynamic working environment where suggestions are welcomed and critical thinking is strongly encouraged. Your typical days will include collaborating with friendly co-workers on an everevolving suite of projects; designing and conducting both quantitative and qualitative research around subjects like early childhood, entrepreneurship, and neighborhood change; cleaning and manipulating data from local, state, and federal sources; and helping the D3 team further its shawarma addiction.

Where: Founded in 2009, Data Driven Detroit (D3) is a low-profit social enterprise pursuing our mission of providing accessible, high-quality analysis to drive informed decision-making in our communities. Our vision is that essential and unbiased information is used by all. We operate as a people-focused company, using the unique skills of our dedicated staff to provide information and analysis that reinforces the capacity of nonprofits, local governments, community groups, and other actors across Detroit, Southeast Michigan, and beyond.

Who:

Required Experience and Skills:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in the social sciences, business/market research, or related field.
  • Familiarity with basic descriptive statistics, and how to calculate them
  • Strong writing and editing skills
  • Experienced with writing reports and papers, especially with a quantitative orientation
  • Flexibility in reacting to changing expectations
  • Competence working with Microsoft Excel and/or database experience (Microsoft Access, SQL Server, etc.)
  • Willing and able to explore innovative and efficient solutions to problems
  • Experience managing individual deadlines and tasks as part of a project team
  • Curiosity around data and a strong desire to answer any question

 

Preferred Skills:

  •  Master’s degree or 2+ years of professional experience working with research and data
  • Willingness to contribute to collective knowledge  Able to manage projects, guide the work of teammates, and communicate with clients
  • Competence working with Geographic Information Systems software (ArcGIS, QGIS, etc.)
  • Proficiency with statistical software (R, Stata, SPSS, SAS, etc.)
  • Working understanding of research design strategies, sampling, survey design, focus groups, and/or fieldwork methods
  • Interest in a range of topics affecting social conditions, especially in an urban setting
  • Familiarity with local governmental and political structures
  • Understanding of the relationships between social conditions and quality of life outcomes

 

How: Please submit a resume and a quick answer to one of the following questions (responses should be no more than 150 words) to work@datadrivendetroit.org. We look forward to reviewing your materials!

1. How would you characterize Detroit’s current situation?

2. What role should data play in policymaking?

3. What question (research or otherwise) would you most like your time at D3 to answer, and why?

4. What do you consider most important to your professional development?

Community Takes Commitment

PowerBI Visualization: Community Takes Commitment

This is the first in a three-part series of Detroit Crime statistics, causes and potential solutions. Microsoft’s Civic Tech Fellow Ivoire Morrell shares a powerful story of the history, economic impact and future narratives of Detroit’s most economically depressed communities. It is our hope that by shining a spotlight on the raw data, and illustrating the potential impact on Detroiters, that we can together build a stronger future.

“You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success — or are they holding you back?” (W. Clement Stone).

There is truth to this statement spoken by the late Chicagoan and philanthropist/businessman William Clement Stone. Environment has a huge impact on who we become. While the environment we live in does not fully guarantee our success or failure in life, it plays a significant factor on the outcome. Sadly, we do not get to choose the environments we are born into. In Detroit, Michigan, many citizens live in some of the most poverty-stricken and crime -ridden communities in the United States. Many of these neighborhoods are a far cry from enriching environments where the landscape is beautiful, employment opportunities are plentiful, security is nearly guaranteed, and crime is close to obsolete.

How do we change an environment from one riddled with crime and poverty, to a flourishing environment with economic growth and declining crime? This question led to the development of my first PowerBI visualization titled: Community Takes Commitment. Using Microsoft’s powerful data analyzation and visualization tool PowerBI, I extracted data from Data Driven Detroit’s (D3) vault of information, creating visuals that detail information about crime in Detroit. The goal of this visualization was to analyze the crime in the city, determine how economic factors may influence crime, and to consider what solution(s) should be applied that could lead to positive change.

Visual1

The visualization above, titled Crime in Detroit, displays detailed information about all of the reported crimes committed in the city from January 2009 to June 24, 2016 (minus sexual crimes, which are not included in the data, and excluding miscellaneous crime in all figures). Figure 1.1 (Top-Left) displays a tree-map showing the total amount crime by category. Categories include aggravated assault, burglary, homicide, and stolen vehicle to name a few. According to the data, the top five offense types over the past 7 years were:

  • Assault (141,129)
  • Larceny (133,272)
  • Burglary (108,862)
  • Damage to property (93,528)
  • Stolen Vehicle (89,243).

Figure 1.2 (Top-Right) displays the rate of crime (total crime divided by total population) by year from 2009 – 2015 (2016 not measured due to incomplete data). The highest rate of crime was in the year 2010, which measured at 20%. Figure 1.3 (Bottom) displays a bar chart of the total amount of crime committed by neighborhood over the 7-year span. The neighborhoods with the most offenses were:

  • State Fair-Nolan (33,258)
  • Burbank (30,184)
  • Greenfield (28,584)
  • Warrendale (27,129)
  • Denby (26,404).

One of my biggest takeaways from the data was that three of the top five categories were related to some form of theft (larceny, burglary, and stolen vehicle). Another big take away was the fact that three of the top five communities with the most offenses occurred are on the East Side of Detroit (State Fair-Nolan, Burbank, and Denby).

Visual 2 (2)

The second visual above is a continuation of the first; with a focal point on the 2015 offenses (minus sexual crimes, which are not included in the data, and excluding miscellaneous crimes in all tables). Table 2.1 (Top-Left) shows the total offenses committed by month in 2015. February (6,465) had the fewest crimes while August (9,423) had the greatest number. Table 2.2 (Top-Right), displays the sum of crimes by precinct. Precinct 8, at 12,404, reported the most crimes in 2015. Figure 2.3 (Bottom-Left) contains information about the time frames when most crimes occur in Detroit. The data shows that in 2015, the greatest number of crimes were committed between 12pm – 1pm, with approximately 59,463 reported offenses. The least amount of crimes were committed between 6am – 7am, with approximately 14,848 reported offenses.  Table 2.4 (Bottom-Middle) displays the neighborhoods with 2,000 crimes or more committed in 2015. Greenfield reported the most offenses in 2015, with 3,542. The last Table 2.5 (Bottom –Right) contains information about the communities displayed in Table 2.4 and the percentage of household in the community living under the median household income ($25,000).

The information displayed on this figure, particularly Tables 2.4 and 2.5, shows that crime occurs most strongly in high-poverty neighborhoods. Nearly half of the population for each neighborhood where the most offenses occurred is living in poverty. Each of the neighborhoods exceeds the city average of citizens living in poverty by at least six percentage points. These statistics indicate to me that there may be inadequate development in these communities, which leads to fewer employment opportunities for individuals to earn substantial income. When you are living in a community that lacks the opportunity to excel beyond the constraints of impoverished living, it places citizens in a state of economic oppression. When citizens are lodged into this environment, the notion of crime as a method to earn revenue is reinforced. Impoverished environments breed criminals; criminals do not breed impoverished environments. If I am living in an environment where the damaged school system is set up to prepare me for scarce factory job, instead of preparing me for higher education; if the primary opportunities for employment in my community are minimum wage paying jobs that lack the likelihood of growth pertaining to wage increase; when there is acute neglect from the city in regards to development of community infrastructure to help me advance; crime becomes a feasible option to generate revenue. When survival is dependent upon earning revenue and the environment hinders chances at financial growth, crime becomes a way of making a living, resulting in higher crime rates in impoverished communities.

Stay tuned for the second part of the series, where I will compare Detroit’s Crime statistics to similarly-sized US cities.