Campus Safety and Security Data

I was fortunate to be invited as a guest speaker for several sections of IMS (Interactive Media Studies) 201 this semester. My presentation "How to Find, Use and Evaluation Numeric Data" introduced information in numeric format such as censuses and survey data to students.

An idea came to me when I was preparing for the presentation this year - There is a growing interest in the IT industry about data visualization and there are lot of free web-based application such as Google Chart Tools, Google Maps and Sourcemap [link] that can be used to present numeric data in a more informative way. Therefore I decided to come up with an in-class exercise that invites the students to explore both the world of numeric information and ways to present it. The topic I decided to use for this exercise was "Campus Safety in Public Universities in Ohio." I felt that was a topic that relates to student life and they can use the information they find both in and outside of the classroom. The students searched and compiled crime statistics from public universities in Ohio and present the findings on the map below. Each red dot represent an university and users can click on the dot to view detail information.

[Note: Data presented on this map was gathered collectively by students for an in-class exercise. The accuracy of the data was not cross-checked.]

The Penn State sex abuse scandal has stirred up a lot of discussion lately. Postsecondary institutions are required by law (the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act and the Higher Education Opportunity Act) to report numbers of criminal offenses, hate crimes, arrests, disciplinary actions and fire incidents to the Department of Education. Postsecondary institutions are also required to make campus safety information available to the public. For example, Miami University has a Campus Safety and Security page [link] that shares information on crime statistics, emergency procedures, etc.. However, considering how "attractive" this type of statistics might be, they are often hard to find on universities and colleges' website (most definitely never linked directly from homepages). Which prompted me to share the data resources that IMS 201 students used to collect data on campus safety in Ohio public universities.

  • College Navigator [link]
    Maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), College Navigator can be used to search for information such as enrollment, tuition and campus safety on nearly 7,000 colleges and universities.
  • The Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool [link]
    Maintained by the Office of Postsecondary Education of the Department of Education, this online tool can be used to generate customized reports based on crime statistics and fire statistics. For example, click here [link] to see the statistics for Penn State.

    It is also worth mentioning that the California Postsecondary Education Commission [link] created a separate web-based tool for crime statistics for all California institutions. This tool allows users to produce graphs and to limit searches to a geographic region or county. However, the data available from this tool will no longer be updated due to the fact that the California Postsecondary Education Commission has closed because budget cuts.

    If you are interested to find more information about the topic of campus safety and security in postsecondary education, you should visit the Campus Security page [link] on the U.S. Department of Education website.