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Expansion Of Real-Time Crime Index Backed By Arnold Ventures

AH Datalytics

During Louisiana’s gubernatorial election, voters repeatedly ranked crime as their number-one concern in polls, and the top candidates responded with tough on crime rhetoric.


Crime wasn’t out of control – at least not according to the available data.

In New Orleans, the nonprofit Metropolitan Crime Commission found a double-digit drop in all major violent crime categories in the city between 2022 and 2023. There was a lack of up-to-date state-wide data given that as of the October 2023 election, the state had still not produced National Incident-Based Reporting Systems data for 2021, and Uniform Crime Reports 2022 had not been released. 

This election and its impact concern Jeff Asher, the co-founder of AH Datalytics (AHD), which provides modern analytical models to organizations that serve the public good.

“We’re deciding who our leaders are going to be, and it’s been several years since any data was actually reported on the number-one issue,” Asher tells Arnold Ventures. ​“The presence of data does not suddenly lead to perfect decision-making, but the absence of data is — in almost every respect — harmful.” 

Concerns about that lag led Asher and AHD to create the Real-Time Crime Index, a repository of preliminary crime data from hundreds of law enforcement agencies that will produce more accurate crime trends, more quickly. The project aims to reach not just political leaders and candidates (and their campaign slogans), but policymakers, academics, journalists, and the public. 

Arnold now is supporting the effort.

“Central to evidence-based policy solutions is improving data transparency,” says Anita Ravishankar, the philanthropy's director of criminal justice research. ​“It’s hard to demand informed decisions when we don’t have even the basics, like a nationwide homicide rate, in our hands.”

“In polls for the last several decades, everyone always says that crime has been rising, and they’re usually wrong. Aside from the recent rise in violent crime during the Covid-19 pandemic — which is a real and valid concern — crime has generally been falling since the mid-1990s,” says Jennifer Doleac, Arnold's executive vice president of criminal justice. ​“If the premise of the problems is wrong, then the proposed solutions might not be helpful.”

With support from Arnold,, AHD plans to develop the Real-Time Crime Index and improve collection of, and access to, crime data more generally. The first step is outreach to more law-enforcement partners across the U.S.

​“It’s important that agencies are willing to participate,” says AHD co-founder Ben Horwitz. ​“When we can find interested organizations that are able to help with data access or give opinions on what the final product should look like, we want to have those conversations.”

Understanding the limited capabilities of some municipalities to collect this kind of data, AHD will offer training and technical support to agencies that may require assistance. As they have in the past with several cities, AHD hopes to gain direct access to the Records Management Systems (RMS) of cities and states.

“We don’t care about data for the sake of data, but rather for what it tells us,” says Asher. ​“How can we use it to inform discussions?” 

AHD plans to create data visualizations, including tables and graphs of year-to-date as well as historic trends.

Asher and Horwitz ultimately hope to transfer the project's management to a federal agency. ​“This is definitely a community service — something AHD thinks should be done — but the government should own this eventually,” says Doleac. 


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