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UK Crime Map
February 1, 2011 2:22 AM   Subscribe

Crime maps have formally reached England and Wales, says The Spectator. Launched today, the crime map shows two mild anti-social orders for our sleepy UK villige. What's your crime level?
posted by Schroder (39 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"villige" oops spellcheck village
posted by Schroder at 2:23 AM on February 1, 2011


I think it is broken already :(
posted by Summer at 2:27 AM on February 1, 2011


Of course, like every government IT project in the history of the ever, it fell over as soon as it was launched. It looks like it's managed this despite being 'in the cloud' by being typically Web2.OMG

Right now it can't decide if Cambridge is fictional or just without a police farce.

Of course, it might have worked a little better if they'd made the links actual links, not url-less class based event driven web 2 bollocks.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 2:30 AM on February 1, 2011


Of course, like every government IT project in the history of the ever, it fell over as soon as it was launched. It looks like it's managed this despite being 'in the cloud' by being typically Web2.OMG


I think this thread can shift this way right now. So government IT projects are really shitty like that?

How come?

It really is a sincere question. Sure I can see myself joking about some type of incompetent bureaucratic...but in IT? Really?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:37 AM on February 1, 2011


How come?

Overoptimism and lack of appreciation of the complexities involved on the part of the government department, coupled with gross overselling and oversimplification on the part of the tech provider.

I don't actually know this, I'm just guessing based on what I know of human nature.
posted by Summer at 2:44 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]



I used the site a bit earlier this morning, it was pretty fast and the design was very "2.0" with lots of white-space, embedded google maps and many other clichés. Despite the snark re the design I was impressed, it really did seem to be one click from frontpage to the data you wanted. Far better than 99% of government websites.

I can take or leave the trendy design... but the inclusion of direct download links to the CSV files for the raw data and a (seemingly) fairly open and well documented API are both superb steps forward for a big government website.

As for the site falling over - I have some sympathy for them. They're going to get massive usage in week 1 and then it'll fall back to about 1% of that for the rest of the site's lifespan. This is a hard usage pattern to engineer for in a cost-effective manner unless your entire site runs on a shared cloud platform, and I'm not sure I want government sites doing that. (Although they did seem to be serving static files from Amazon's cloud, I didn't look too closely, so maybe they are trying to cope with volume and just failing as so many others have before them)
posted by samworm at 2:50 AM on February 1, 2011


Sure I can see myself joking about some type of incompetent bureaucratic...but in IT? Really?

Really. It happens for a lot of reasons, but in broad strokes, these projects get outsourced, and everyone on the government side is clueless while everyone on the outsourcing side is a shark.
posted by Leon at 2:50 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think Leon's point is exactly why large IT projects in the UK always fail; the people deciding who to outsource to aren't competent to make that decision. It's free money for any chancer who can blag it.
posted by nowonmai at 2:58 AM on February 1, 2011


On the upside, the page did eventually load well enough to confirm my suspicion that the chavs at the other end of the village are right antisocial, so now I can get back to reading the Daily Mail in peace. Except I really want to know what that "Other Crime" was on Stratford Close. Bogus asylum claim, most likely.
I don't see what good can come of this initiative.
posted by nowonmai at 3:09 AM on February 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


but in IT? Really?

In the private sector, there's this all-knowing, all-powerful dude named Invisible Hans who sustains the worthy projects and damns to death the unworthy. Government projects are mostly ahansist. They may pay lip service to the almighty Forces of Hans with so-called "competitive bids" and all, but projects, including many IT projects, are nonetheless created and maintained artificially, not offered for sacrifice at the altar of Invisible Hans, such that an almost endless river of money flows into them, all because the ahansists have declared that these projects should and must and will exist, and not because these projects are able to create a money-attracting field that pleases Hans.

Something like that. I never paid much attention in that class. I just maintain the Cobol that displays the interface for the Fortran program that prints the approval forms that authorize auditors to initiate the Ada module sequence that sends out the alerts that signal the relighting of the pulsing green light in the tower visible through the windows of the ladies in accounting who approve of the printing of my paychecks.
posted by pracowity at 3:13 AM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pracowity - I've got to pitch to an application security firm on Thursday. Could you come along?
posted by Summer at 3:17 AM on February 1, 2011


Yes, I'd imagine Cambridge has a police farce.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:20 AM on February 1, 2011


I will be there in spirit.
posted by pracowity at 3:20 AM on February 1, 2011


Apparently, where I live and work don't exist.

God bless govt IT fiascoes! I wonder how much that cost me.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 3:22 AM on February 1, 2011


I think Leon's point is exactly why large IT projects in the UK always fail;

I don't think this project has failed, BTW - it was working quite happily last night, and didn't seem to have any major holes. Dealing with the kind of hammering it's getting right now is quite a specialised thing, and I wouldn't be surprised if they either dropped the ball, or decided (quite reasonably IMO) it wasn't worth building out the infrastructure to support it.
posted by Leon at 3:22 AM on February 1, 2011


464 ASBOs in Peckham. Go us!
posted by Summer at 3:22 AM on February 1, 2011


Maybe it's a cunning meta-comment on the cuts to police funding.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:26 AM on February 1, 2011


God bless govt IT fiascoes! I wonder how much that cost me.
300K according to the Register.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 3:30 AM on February 1, 2011


Nice to know that people are still getting beaten up outside the same pubs I used to frequent in my home town. Gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. My parents are going to be all over this after they finish reading their Daily Mail.
posted by arcticseal at 3:32 AM on February 1, 2011


Can't find my flat in Brixton.

Doesn't work in Flock.

Has crashed IE twice.

Needs more work.

That said, I've worked Govt and private sector and been involved in IT projects, and I'm not at all convinced that the governance is any better in the private sector.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:46 AM on February 1, 2011


The problem with UK Web projects like this is (IMHO) that they outsource the project to someone you've never heard of, fail to load test properly and then fanfare the launch.

The screenshots I've seen from the pre-launch journalist show-around look great and I've no doubt it will be interesting, but I've no idea how you can simulate the 75,000 hits a minute the Daily Mail are claiming it's currently getting.

But, really, the best they could have done is launch it with no fanfare and let people discover it. Then the news would have spread over a few days and the load would have been lighter. Instead, it was announced yesterday as launching at midnight.

Of course, this is just one side of UK.gov's IT cockups. It's the big spend projects where the real fun lies...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:50 AM on February 1, 2011


Hmm, hosted on an Amazon EC2 instance, if my tracert was to be believed:
IP : 46.137.113.51
Host : ec2-46-137-113-51.eu-west-1.compute.amazonaws.com

Amazon offer auto-scaling for EC2, so I'm going to blame developer incompetence. I want to see which of my neighbours have an ASBO, dammit!
posted by SyntacticSugar at 4:04 AM on February 1, 2011


Since SyntacticSugar's post the CNAME record for www.police.uk. has changed to policeuk-167782603.eu-west-1.elb.amazonaws.com. - so it's obviously finally occurred to someone that having some of that scaling shit might be an idea.
posted by influx at 4:25 AM on February 1, 2011


"Five million hits an hour force online crime maps to crash"

True to form, the Grauniad offers this closing sentence:
....and offers CCTV footage from the Met currently available on YouTube of recent crimes, including footage of a man rape investigators want to talk to.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:26 AM on February 1, 2011


I'm watching the results page for my village right now, and it just keeps refreshing itself.

The thing is, every refresh involves downloading every single file again (200 not 304), including a file called jsi18n, which they've hosted on their own server rather than the amazon servers that all the images are coming from. That one file is taking 15s for a 600 byte file.

That's some shitty dev work right there...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 4:31 AM on February 1, 2011


Here are your devs. Changing Perceptions, apparently.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 4:39 AM on February 1, 2011


My money is on them using Google's geocoder on the backend - that's rate-limited, and they'll have hit the limited almost instantly, so I'd imagine their developers (assuming there's more than one) are running around in a bit of a flap right now. Given how long it took them to stick this behind Amazon ELB, I'd imagine it'll be some time tomorrow before it occurs to them to do the geocoding on the client side instead.
posted by influx at 4:42 AM on February 1, 2011


Changing Perceptions, apparently.

I wish companies would stop doing that. I'm getting dizzy.
posted by Summer at 4:44 AM on February 1, 2011


Given how long it took them to stick this behind Amazon ELB, I'd imagine it'll be some time tomorrow before it occurs to them to do the geocoding on the client side instead.
If only there was some kind of distributed computing platform they could have used.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 4:51 AM on February 1, 2011


Does it have some kind of color-coding to distinguish between ruffians, scalawags and dustbin-kicking hooligans?
posted by delfin at 4:59 AM on February 1, 2011


I'd like to report this as a crime against bandwidth. It's hosed my computer 3 times already today.
posted by MuffinMan at 5:27 AM on February 1, 2011


http://www.police.uk/ is completely dead now.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:10 AM on February 1, 2011


It worked fine for me about 7.15am UK time, announced on the Today program. I found it, not alarming maybe, but certainly sobering. I'm in a nice bit of town, but still central Manchester, and there were burglaries and violent incidents in the streets all around. So I'm conscious it might alarm people.

One of the nice things, though, was that it showed the duty constables for my area and their names and photos. That simple thing made me feel properly public-spirited. But then, I'm a not on a demonstration...

Perhaps it could show a "cleared up!" sign for crimes where someone has been convicted. Though that might be even more alarming/depressing/DailyMailish.
posted by alasdair at 8:15 AM on February 1, 2011


So £300,000 of my tax money (and your tax money, and everyone else's) has been pissed away on a website that cannot do a simple post code search without spilling the HTTP 503 guts.

Hooray
posted by jgbustos at 8:45 AM on February 1, 2011


I noticed that Buckingham Palace was in a high crime area...
posted by quarsan at 10:26 AM on February 1, 2011


Worked fast and without a hitch for me at 2am (two hours after launch). What it told me was interesting but wasn't a great suprise. Doesn't seem fair to slag off the developers or the site's modest cost for the inevitable overwhelming interest on launch day - everyone in Britain woke to the news that there was this wonderful site that confirmed all their fears of what goes on in their neighbourhood.
posted by 4eyes at 4:10 PM on February 1, 2011


I noticed that Buckingham Palace was in a high crime area...

This was probably a tongue in cheek comment, but the only time I ever (almost) fell victim to crime in Europe was within sight of the Palace. My wife and I had just left the Green Park station on our way back to our hotel from an abortive attempt to go on the Jack the Ripper walking tour, when we apparently picked up a tail. I say "apparently" because I was suffering from a case of bad vindaloo picked up at a restaurant in Soho, and didn't realize it. Me, the paranoid one, too preoccupied with my tummy ache to notice the two guys following us.

Luckily my wife is a sharp one. She'd spotted them and knew the hotel was only a block or two up the street, and hustled my ass there in spite of my insufferable whining. It wasn't until she alerted the concierge and he sent a couple of guys out to chase them down that I realized what the hell was going on.

Though for all I know they were just going to offer assistance in finding our hotel. Those British, always so helpful.
posted by total warfare frown at 9:01 PM on February 1, 2011


Worked okay for me in Firefox today.

Interesting that it shows crimes for Dec 2010; how frequently is it supposed to be updated?
posted by dubold at 5:50 AM on February 2, 2011


Think new datasets are going to be updated monthly, overwriting the existing data.
Some criticism at the Grauniad, with some other analysis here and some information on a previous version by the same dev team (which possibly might be the source of the 300K price-tag.)
Note that the maps do not contain data about sexual assaults or murders (see the Graun. article for details) and totals are for reported crimes, not convictions.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 2:59 AM on February 3, 2011


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