The Globe reports Boston is unveiling a new Web site and iPhone app (sorry, Android and Blackberry users) that let you get a sort of dashboard look at how the city's performing in a variety of areas - based on a $650,000 overhaul of the city's back-end data systems.
On the Web site, each of the main tiles lets you open up even more statistics related to the department it's from.
All kinda cool, but statistics are kind of meaningless without some context and may actually prove misleading depending on how they're used - especially in a large-ish city like ours.
For example, it's nice that the city's overall crime rate is down 4% this year, but that might be of little comfort to residents in police district A-1 (Beacon Hill, the North End, Chinatown and downtown), where the latest BPD stats (in boring PDF form) show robberies and attempted robberies are up 14%. And that 4% number hides the fact that rapes and attempted rapes citywide are up 5%.
Still, the numbers can get you to asking questions, which is part of the point of the whole exercise. For example, ISD consistently gets more no-heat complaints than it expects. Why is that?