Swarthmore College students, faculty create gun violence tracker

The data is presented like a heat map, showing the areas where the crimes are occurring.
SWARTHMORE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- At Swarthmore College, students and faculty have been working with local anti-violence groups to create an interactive database that tracks homicides in Delaware County. It's a project that began in 2013, but the dashboard launched a few weeks ago.

Lee Smithey, a professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Sociology, said he and his students came up with the idea to create an interactive database eight years ago.

"We have mostly relied on law enforcement data through the uniform crime report, and we have supplemented that with journalistic sources," Smithey said.

The data is presented as a heat map, showing the areas where the crimes are occurring. Students also turn to sources such as 6abc and local newspapers for more information about the crimes including the victims' ages, and the weapons used.

"The database confirms a lot of what we already know, sadly, about gun violence and that is that young Black men in their 20s are at disproportionately higher risk than other folks," Smithey said.

They hope that that database will be used for violence prevention efforts and will lead to more help for communities disproportionately impacted.

"We hope that the average resident of Delaware County also can just become more aware of the problem of gun violence. It's not just a Philadelphia issue. We need to deal with it as a county out here in the suburbs as well," he said.

Swarthmore students will continue tracking homicides. They hope, at some point, they can access more data and track not just homicides but all gun violence in Delaware County.
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