Schenectady website tracks recycling, crime

Department heads submit data for taxpayers to see

Friday, September 13, 2013
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— Month by month, residents can now track how much they are all saving the city by recycling — and how much their neighbors are costing the city by throwing everything away instead.

It’s one of the many items on the city’s new Metrics page on its website.

Crimes and the Police Department’s effort to solve them can also be tracked closely. There, the news is rosy: crime is dropping by double digits.

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But Chief Brian Kilcullen isn’t satisfied. He wants to put weekly data on the Web page, showing the public exactly how much crime is falling in comparison with last week, last month and last year.

“I want it to be more timely,” he said.

Mayor Gary McCarthy has encouraged department heads to submit data for the Web page, and has promised that more data will be added as time goes on.

Kilcullen’s data shows the drop in crime from 2011 to 2012. What it doesn’t show is how much better the situation has gotten this year.

Overall, violent crimes are down 17 percent from last year. Larcenies and burglaries are down nearly 20 percent. Assaults are down 14 percent.

In real numbers, that means that 40 fewer people were beaten up this year, 110 fewer homes were burglarized and 300 fewer people had valuable items stolen from them.

But transferring all that data to a Web page hasn’t been easy. The system reported that the police had not served any warrants, which was news to Kilcullen. He’s emphasized the importance of tracking down people who have warrants against them, and the Police Department has begun to catch up with its years-old backlog of warrant cases, he said.

But none of those numbers came through, due to technical problems.

He said he might simply eliminate that item from the Web page for now, in favor of adding more timely crime reports.

While he has good news to report, Commissioner of General Services Carl Olsen is hoping the Metrics page encourages people to recycle more.

Right now, the page shows that people generally recycled more paper a year ago than they do now. However, residents seem to be recycling a few more containers (tin, plastic and glass) this year than last year.

The numbers are updated monthly.

Olsen said he’s still disappointed by the small amount of recycling in the city.

“The thing that will encourage people to recycle the most is a truly pay-as-you-throw environment,” he said. “I’d like to see, in the future, people who recycle more pay less.”

But that would require some way of tracking it. Olsen said the city could buy electronic trackers that residents could attach to their recycling bins. As the recycling truck stops at the bin, a reader would note that the tracker had been placed by the curb.

“You wouldn’t know how much they recycled, but you’d know the bin was out there,” Olsen said. “The question always is, ‘How do you effectively measure participation without it costing you a fortune?’ ”

He tries to persuade reluctant recyclers by explaining that it’s their best way of reducing the city budget.

The city pays $70 a ton to dump trash, but can dump recycling for free.

“They can see the numbers,” Olsen said of the Metrics Web page. “It is a way taxpayers could help control the costs. It’s kind of like a report card.”

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September 13, 2013
9:13 p.m.
1963 says...

I think this is the "metrics" webpage on Schenectady's website?

September 14, 2013
8:15 a.m.
gina99 says...

More nothing from the worst City government in Upstate New York. Re-elect who?

September 15, 2013
12:22 p.m.
jonw757 says...

I cannot believe this new website is built with Microsoft FrontPage.. I guess I appreciate saving money but christ, there are better free website builders out there. Makes the city look like even more of a joke.

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