The DataHero Blog

Graffiti in San Francisco

September 5th, 2013

The city of San Francisco spends upwards of $20 million annually to eradicate graffiti. This is very different from the street art movement, which is also quite popular in San Francisco. Graffiti is vandalism in the form of names or sayings, whereas street art is intended to beautify the city. The city of San Francisco made its data on graffiti available to the public, so we decided to take a look at the neighborhoods that struggle the most with defacement.

 Street Art vs. Graffiti

In this first chart, you’ll find the top ten neighborhoods for graffiti within San Francisco. The Mission is by far the most riddled by graffiti, with more than twice as many graffiti cases as the second most prominent graffiti neighborhood, SOMA.

 DataHero Top San Francisco Neighborhoods for Graffiti 2013

The data can also be broken down by type of graffiti in the percentage graph below. In many neighborhoods, the graffiti is not offensive, meaning not containing illicit language,  but it’s located on private property. Chances are, homeowners and landlords aren’t concerned about whether the graffiti contains illicit language, as cleanup on private property can come at a huge financial cost to home or business owners.

DataHero Top Ten Neighborhoods by Graffiti Type (1)

Through easy grouping in DataHero, we can see that graffiti reporting peaks on Wednesdays, then sees a steady decrease throughout the rest of the week.

DataHero Graffiti Reports by Day of the Week (1)

Below you’ll find a cumulative graph of graffiti records from December 2012 to August 2013. There’s a sharp increase in graffiti from December to January, presumably as a result of decreased tagging during the holiday season. Graffiti reports increase steadily throughout the year after January.

DataHero San Francisco Top Neighborhoods for Graffiti by Month

The San Francisco Department of Public Works says the best way to address the tagging issue is quick removal. According to the Broken Windows Theory, leaving graffiti in a neighborhood communicates the idea that graffiti is acceptable. Then the neighborhood will succumb to more graffiti and can be subject to other socially deviant behaviors. By visualizing this data, it’s easier to see the patterns and identify graffiti hotspots for subsequent removal and increased monitoring during certain months or in specific neighborhoods. Have data you’d like to visualize to spot trends? Give DataHero a try. 



By Kelli Simpson

Create my Free DataHero Account

Get the fastest, easiest way to understand your data today.