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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Good & not so good Crime/Policing Mapping Sites 4 – CrimeReports

To me CrimeReports is an impressive site - thumbs up, but a small thumbs up because it is not without its faults.

CrimeReports go about things in the right way, they obtain their data from police agencies, so my confidence in the provenance of their data is high. They make their money from the data provider so there is no annoying advertising on their site.

CrimeReports philosophy seems to be that people should have access to information about crimes that are going on around where they live, work and frequent. It is therefore best viewed on a small neighbourhood scale.

What are the faults?

The main one is to do with the title - Crime Reports. This is an ambiguous title and one which makes most people assume (I think) that the data come from the police crime recording system that has a comprehensive record of reported crime. This appears not to be case. Most, if not all the data comes from the police Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system that manages the deployment of police units to incidents. The problem with this is that a significant proportion of crimes are reported without incidents being created and therefore the data is not as comprehensive as the title suggests. Secondly I suspect that CAD system in the USA, like the UK, is not standardised so it is difficult to compare different police force areas on the basis of this data.

This is not huge difficulty and one of semantics which can easily be solved by CrimeReports being bit more transparent.

After all it would be churlish of me to be over critical as I am advocating Policing Maps for the public based on incident data.

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