As a geography professor, I am forever wandering between fields of data that don’t really make much sense to me. Often, I wander in the dead of night in an apartment away from prying eyes. The world at night is not always quiet, however, especially as it goes around the edges of points of interest, i.e. the map I’m looking at.
This is the case with Omicron, the citizen science project that is building a great, concise picture of things happening in the US. While most folks are busy working on designing their SoundCloud playlists for the upcoming warmer weather, Omicron is still getting some work done.
One way they are doing this is by gathering and analysing the crowd-sourced data. However, due to the nature of an algorithm-based project, it’s hard to see the positive indicators in this data. Sure, they are talking about murders and shootings as well as changes in weather and visibility. However, a good chunk of the data points do not make sense at first glance. For example, it is uncertain what the 8th most populous city in the US would be doing all day long – nothing is ever built for any longer than the next 45 minutes or so. It seems like it would be among the most violent, where as the 5th most populous city would be a safe haven. Odd? It sort of is.
Since my role as a professor is to spark interest and discuss these sorts of things, I figured I would take a look at Omicron and explore some of the data that I have on it. I set out to see what I could find out about the one of the coolest examples of citizen science at work, what the future holds for Omicron and what are the other exciting and potentially potentially new projects that these citizen scientists are working on.
I hope you enjoy reading it, too.