LSU Technology and Entrepreneurship Professor James Davis hopes to make Baton Rouge residents and University students aware of potential dangers through an app that reports where and when crimes happen each day.
The free app, BTR Crime, was first released in 2015. It opens a map of Baton Rouge on the user’s iPhone and drops pins where a crime has been committed. Upon clicking a pin, users can find out what type of crime was committed, whether it be a robbery, assault or homicide. The app also gives the incident number with each pin so users can seek out more information on a specific crime.
“I built [the app] for me and the types of the things I would want to know,” Davis said. “If you ask me what I hope [anyone else] can get out of it, [I’d say] something similar. How safe is my community?”
The app helps residents gain a sense of how safe their areas are, and future residents can find out which neighborhoods are the safest to live.
The only other way a resident can get this information is directly through the Open Data Portal from the Baton Rouge Police Department, but it can be time-consuming and not as efficient.
“If you go out and look at the Open Data Portal, it’s just not very user-friendly,” Davis said. “[With BTR Crime,] you get a quick bird’s eye view of everything in a format and on a platform that I think we as a society are comfortable with.”
The app has also caused a bit of concern among users who did not previously know the extent of crime in the city.
For instance, as of Sept. 4, there have been 262 attempted homicides already reported in 2018, which averages about one homicide every day, according to the app.
“I’m not naive,” Davis said. I know there’s evil in the world. If you asked me to guess how many homicides there were [this year] in Baton Rouge, I would not have guessed .”
BTR Crime is free in the iPhone app store, but is not available on other devices.
“I made [BTR Crime] for myself,” Davis said. “I have an iPhone. No one has asked me to [make an Android version]. When I first released it onto the app store, I thought maybe [BTR Crime] would get some attention. Maybe someone would take notice and say, ‘Hey, would you be interested in adding some additional features or making additional versions?’ No one took notice until recently.”