DPSS Data Access

The Division of Public Safety and Security Technology Management Unit is working to make data about the safety and security of the University of Michigan available to the community.

Our Goals

  • Provide timely information to the University community
  • Enable the "crowdsourcing" of innovative technology for public safety and security
  • Increase the visibility of critical information, such as [UM Emergency Alerts], across campus
  • Provide opportunities for education and innovation by using public safety and security data

Our Data

Name Type Notes
Incident Reports Reports of criminal incidents on campus Click [here] for more information.
Calls for Service All activities performed by patrol officers Click [here] for more information.

Application Programming Interface (API)

An application programming interface (API) allows computer programs to access information from another computer program or software. An API generally takes the form of instructions and descriptions that allows a person to construct a program that makes use of the data it exposes. Examples of API that can be used to construct software:

You can use the DPSS NEWS JSON API to look for UM Emergency Alerts and display the alert in your own software!

Although APIs can be quite complex, DPSS APIs will be simple web-based interfaces. Below is a table listing our current APIs:

API Name Type URL Notes
DPSS News** HTTP Get/JSON* http://www.dpss.umich.edu/api/GetPostings?limit=5 - parameter "?limit={integer}" must be included.
- or use a specific posting parameter "?id={integer}"
- and/or use a specific posting type "?type={integer}"
DPSS News RSS RSS http://www.dpss.umich.edu/rss/

* Data will be returned to the client using Javascript Object Notation (JSON.) See [http://www.copterlabs.com/blog/json-what-it-is-how-it-works-how-to-use-it/]

** In the JSON API, {posting_type_id} will indicate the type of message:

  • Posting Type 1: Crime Alert
  • Posting Type 2: General News Item
  • Posting Type 3: Security Bulletin
  • Posting Type 4: Emergency Alert
  • Posting Type 5: Special Bulletin

Data Supplied to Third Parties

DPSS, as a sworn law enforcement agency and the University as a higher education institution is required by various laws and statues to report statistical information to state and federal agencies.

Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act, or Clery Act data is available at [http://ope.ed.gov/security/] and on the DPSS website]

DPSS recommends the Clery data as the best data that reflects crime on campus. This data is collected and reported in accordince with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act. The Clery Act is best described by Wikipedia [here].

Michigan Incident Crime Reporting requires Michigan law enforcement agencies to provide the Michigan State Police statistics on reported crime each month. The data for University of Michigan, as well as all other communities is available on the Michigan State Police [Uniform Crime Report] website. These statistics reflect a different set of reporting requirements than the Clery Act.

Caution against Ranking (a message from the FBI:)

Each year when Crime in the United States is published, many entities—news media, tourism agencies, and other groups with an interest in crime in our Nation—use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city, county, state, or region. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.

The user is, therefore, cautioned against comparing statistical data of individual reporting units from cities, counties, metropolitan areas, states, or colleges and universities solely on the basis of their population coverage or student enrollment.

Data upon request

Not all data is available electronically. Although we are working to make our data available for access by computer, if you have a dataset requirement, please contact DPSS.

About the Technology

The DPSS website hosted on Google's [Google App Engine] cloud platform. App Engine is a cloud computing service that provides most of the building blocks for an interactive website without requiring users to maintain physical computing hardware, operating systems (like Microsoft Windows or Linux,) and even the webserver software itself. This allows developers to concentrate on the actual website design and functionality.

DPSS selected the App Engine plaform to ensure the DPSS website has enough capacity to scale to hundreds and thousands of users in an emergency.

Much of the data at DPSS is held in legacy computing platforms, such as an [IBM AS400]. The development roadmap of the DPSS website is to identify, design, build, and deploy applications so the data can be accessible through this website and other technologies.