I returned to the DC Data Catalog in hopes of finding data that revealed something hidden about our city. But the data is either too dense or too scant, and nothing I found rewarded the effort to mine the data.

I started with the Building Permits, using data from January through April of 2012. This four-month period had a whopping 11,991 permits issued. The system has three types of permits, which I represented with primary colors: green for construction (35% of the total), red for supplemental (53%), and blue for post card (12%). “Postcard” permits are for the most common home-improvement and small construction projects. 206 of all entries (under 2%) had no geographic coordinates and thus aren’t included on the map.

The animation on the right has no surprises. The permits are fairly evenly distributed.

So, next I looked at 311 calls for 2010. 311 handles all non-emergency calls for city services. There were 429,676 calls logged in 2010. DC has a population of 601,723, so I guess that’s less than one call person per year. I looked for calls that might be indicative of quality-of-life issues, that might have an interesting geographic pattern.

I sifted out three categories of problems: rat abatement requests, graffiti removal requests, and reports of illegal dumping. Of the three, rats are the most-reported problem, with 3,123 calls made in 2010. Illegal dumping got called in 2,808 times, and graffiti was reported 1,494 times. The maps below show the distribution of the problems.

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The nuisances seem to be evenly distributed, with the western tip of the city enjoying a paucity of problems. The city shares only the 2010 service request data, so it is not possible to get a longer-range view of how problems have migrated and grown.

For more interesting examples of Washington, DC data, see Animated Map of Homicides in Washington, DC and Analyzing DC Bicycle Theft Data.

Sometimes Data Is Boring

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