Like a travel guide, but crime.
April 12, 2011 2:44 PM   Subscribe is where you go to see colorful US crime maps.

They offer a free crime alert and crime report service, although have yet to expand to all 50 states.
posted by lemuring (24 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
One cool thing to do in a city map with a lot of crime is click "Enable Clusters". It assigns numerical values to the number of crimes occurring in gridded areas.
posted by lemuring at 2:47 PM on April 12, 2011

Something about crime maps squicks me out. I can't quite figure out what it is, but I think it is linked to the emphasis on problems, without any normalization or context. For example, if you see 10 crimes in a block over one year, that looks terrible. But maybe the number of people who walked along that block was a million people. If only there was a measure of positivity too!
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:51 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Calgary has a crime map similar to this and I find it fascinating. But as Womble points out, it can emphasize problems, especially in specific communities. My parents live in a community with a "bad name" for crime, but the map proves that the neighbourhood has a pretty low crime rate. As it happens, they live on a horseshoe where no crimes have been reported (which of course doesn't mean that crime hasn't occurred...but still). It's one of those things where trying to prove something otherwise is tough.

Having said that, it is weird to look up our neighbourhood on the map and find that just down the street a domestic violence incident was reported within the last six months.
posted by Calzephyr at 3:00 PM on April 12, 2011

Very similar to CrimeReports, but does not seem to have as wide of a coverage so far.
posted by samsara at 3:05 PM on April 12, 2011

posted by Evernix at 3:06 PM on April 12, 2011

I believe that's because your area doesn't have the service. The NYPD hasn't jumped on board if that's the area you're referring to.
posted by lemuring at 3:07 PM on April 12, 2011

Los Angeles is also crime free! Unlike Santa Monica, Pasadena, etc.

(yeah I know, LAPD isn't on board apparently).
posted by wildcrdj at 3:08 PM on April 12, 2011

LA has this:
posted by nutate at 3:10 PM on April 12, 2011

"Look, Robin... we've been captured by the Crime Mapper!"
"The surveyor of sin, the draftsman of doom?"
"The same, old chum! That crooked cartographer has us trapped in his unbreakable elevation markings!"
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:19 PM on April 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

Fifty-seven crimes in the last week within a half-mile of my house!

Okay, no. A bunch of them were disturbing the peace calls, outside bars at midnight or later. A number of reports of intoxicated persons. Several assaults, but it's hard to know what that means - a random stranger attacked someone? Two drunk friends fighting over something? Who knows? So that's unhelpful. A couple of burglaries, and one purse-snatching. And a few car break-ins. All in all, not so bad.
posted by rtha at 3:36 PM on April 12, 2011

What womble said. Context is everything. Crime maps are dangerous unless you understand the pitfalls.

Also does not rule out domestic crimes, drug deals gone bad, gang-on-gang violence, etc.

Being able to sort that stuff out is extremely useful. Here in DC, 99% of our "serious" crimes fall under those three headings. The other 1% is almost always the result of collateral damage from that 99%. Unprovoked crime is really, really, ridiculously rare just about anywhere.

Anything that doesn't fit into that 1% will be front page news for months after the fact. (Years if it's a white girl)

Fortunately, DC appears to be completely crime-free based off of this map.

*Minor robberies excluded.
posted by schmod at 3:38 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, weird that the LA version is telling me that no crimes happened when the LA Times map has them.
posted by klangklangston at 3:40 PM on April 12, 2011

Were there really a bazillion crimes in Detroit south of 8 Mile and none elsewhere, or is that a reporting anomaly?
posted by rocket88 at 3:48 PM on April 12, 2011

I can't find the section for Iraq.
posted by pompomtom at 3:50 PM on April 12, 2011

Were there really a bazillion crimes in Detroit south of 8 Mile and none elsewhere, or is that a reporting anomaly?

The service works on a county/agency basis. A police department pays a monthly fee to get access to a set of diagnostic tools. The individual doesn't pay anything directly.

You can see the individual police departments that are participating in the drop-down menus on the main page.
posted by lemuring at 3:54 PM on April 12, 2011

Oakland also has something similar. Having lived here for a decade or so, it's always fun to check the map and see MY VERY OWN CRIME, on the internet!
posted by waitangi at 3:55 PM on April 12, 2011

"Powered by ESRI". That's interesting, it's not Google Maps. ESRI's the old school GIS people, don't see them a lot on web sites. The basemap layer comes from Bing/Microsoft, who has a very nice mapping service with friendlier terms of service than Google. Some of the javascript references, presumably ESRI's contribution.
posted by Nelson at 3:57 PM on April 12, 2011

Nelson, ESRI makes ArcGis which in most areas is the mapping software. Most of their stuff is the code for mapping and interpretitive functions, the data comes from other sources like Bing or the Federal government.
posted by teleri025 at 5:20 PM on April 12, 2011

Glad to see that Baltimore is now completely free of crime as well.
posted by Shike at 5:22 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, this info is based on reported crimes. So, for example, in the really bad parts of St. Louis, it looks deceptively crime-free when in reality a lot of shit just isn't reported.
posted by teleri025 at 5:23 PM on April 12, 2011

The Detroit police stats don't seem to include homicides.
posted by ofthestrait at 6:57 PM on April 12, 2011

See also EveryBlock.
posted by me3dia at 7:38 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Were there really a bazillion crimes in Detroit south of 8 Mile and none elsewhere, or is that a reporting anomaly?

Expanding on what lemuring explained, I've recently helped set up one of these "feeds" for a local police department to CrimeReports, which is a similar crime mapping site to this one. Basically every police department has their own CAD (computer aided relation to the drawing type of's an example of one) These are systems where all crimes, beats, and their relative locations are stored. In each of these databases there's a friendly name or address, like 101st street, and then there's the actual GPS location fields for those records that give the exact coordinates which are usually set to a precision or 6 to get within a few feet of the location on the map. So it really comes down to which police departments are volunteering feeds from their database, and to which sites they are feeding them (you may see completely different info when viewing EveryBlock or CrimeReports)

Also, this might not be the case in Detroit, another strange thing you may notice is when a lot of crimes seem to all happen in one spot. That is usually due to the individual police department responsible for the data having records in their system that have not been updated to precise coords. When these feeds are initially set up with the help of the crime mapping company, they are tested and signed off on by the participating police department in a sandbox mode before going live. If they have any low precision GPS coords (like -73, 35) instead of precise coords (-73.123153, 35.381627) for some locations, then every crime that occurs within that database that has low precision is sent over as what seems to be a single spot on the map, even though the "friendly" names may be different.
posted by samsara at 8:29 PM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here's the crime map maintained by the Calgary police. It looks like it can only project 500 incidents at a time unless one is specifically filtering by location or incident type.

Since it doesn't trend beyond six months, I don't really know how to parse the information it provides beyond comparing snapshots of individual communities to one another. Also not sure how to parse the news that a residential break-in apparently just happened at my immediate neighbours'.
posted by metaman livingblog at 12:34 AM on April 13, 2011

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