The Advocate’s Behind the Numbers blog is unveiling a new feature that will be updated monthly to measure gun violence trends in New Orleans neighborhoods. The NOLA Neighborhood Gun Violence Index is designed to show which parts of town have been most violent since 2011, and how each neighborhood has fared over the past year, half-year and two months.

Here’s how the index works: Over 1,900 shootings, from January 2011 through the present, were mapped by neighborhood. Locational data come from the city’s Calls for Service database; this map was used for neighborhood boundaries.

The Index contains four columns for all 70 neighborhoods.

  • The first column, the “Annual Average,” shows how many shootings each neighborhood has had per year since January 2011 (the formula is number of shootings divided by number of total days since Jan. 1, 2011, multiplied by 365 and rounded up or down).
  • The second column compares the number of shootings over the preceding 365 days relative to the annual average.
  • The third column compares the annualized number of shootings over the preceding 180 days to the annual average.
  • The fourth column compares the annualized number of shootings over the preceding 60 days to the annual average. This measure is made up of a small sample size so conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt.

Let’s look at the Seventh Ward.

The Seventh Ward has been the city’s second most violent neighborhood (after Central City) with 39 shooting incidents taking place there every 365 days on average since 2011. According to the Index’s second column, gun violence has decreased over the last year, with the neighborhood having night fewer shootings than average over the last year. This would translate to 30 shootings having taken place in the Seventh Ward over the past 365 days.

The Index’s third column measures the pace of shootings in the Seventh Ward over the last six months (180 days) and shows an annualized pace of 11 fewer shootings than the typical rate of 39. In other words, if the Seventh Ward maintained its pace of shootings over the last six months for a full year, it would experience only 28 shootings.

The final column shows that gun violence appears to be heating up over in the Seventh Ward over the last two months. If the pace of shootings in the Seventh Ward over the last 60 days were maintained for a full year, then that neighborhood would have three shootings above the annual average (or 42 total shootings).

While the Seventh Ward has generally experienced a downturn in violence this year — if not during the past two months — the Little Woods neighborhood in New Orleans East has seen a spike in gun violence. Little Woods has averaged 33 shootings per year since 2011, but has had nine shootings more than average over the last year (42 shootings). Pines Village has seen 14 shootings above average in the last six months, and the pace of shootings there over the last two months would lead to 16 more shootings than average over the course of a year, or 49 shootings total.

All neighborhoods aren’t equal in population size, so an additional interesting analysis involves looking at size relative to gun violence. This is provided in the table below. The second column contains 2015 population estimates compiled by New Orleans Advocate reporter John Simerman using statistics provided by The Data Center. The third column divides the population estimate by the annual average to show the number of people per shooting.

Gun Violence by New Orleans Neighborhood, 2011 – 2015. Source: NOPD.

Per this table, Pines Village and Mid-City have averaged 12 and 11 shootings per year since 2011, but there are only 376 people per shooting in Pines Village while there are 1,467 people per shooting in Mid-City. This suggests Pines Village has nearly four times the number of shootings per capita as Mid-City does despite the neighborhoods having similar shooting totals.

This index provides a quick and easy way to evaluate which neighborhoods are most plagued with gun violence, and they also offer a peek into a how violence in a neighborhood seems to be trending . This provides a greater level of granularity than can be provided by studying shootings by police district.