Your verification ID is: guDlT7MCuIOFFHSbB3jPFN5QLaQ Big Computing: Crime Data Visualizations

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Crime Data Visualizations

Two years ago I was at a party with some friends of mine. Most of the people at the party worked for the FBI. As I am wondering around I strike up a conversation with a couple who both work for the Agency. The guys is an agent, but the girl is an epidemiologist. What? I did not know epidemiologist work for the FBI. Turns out she worked for the CDC before being recruited by the FBI to apply epidemiological methods to crime. Basically looking at crime hotspots and the spread of crime. She was using mostly SPSS at the time, but had also played with some models in R.

In the last few months I have seen a number of different sources play with crime data in visualizations.

At the most basic the state of Connecticut does a nice maps of the locations of sex offenders. It is basic with drop pins for each persons location, but it is a good interactive platform. I would include an image, but it has a disclaimer first so I will provide a link here. Trulia recently did an interactive heat map of crime map. This is a great simple visualization that allows you to drill down to street level from a high level of a USA map. It is still in beta and only covers a few major cities right now. The New York Times also did a cool scatter plot overlayed on a map of the city of murders.

Drew Conway just great time series heat map of a year of Chicago crime that is fun to watch. Drew also did a predictive murder map of Philadelphia. This takes me back to the epidemiologist at the FBI. I wonder to what level of detail can we predict crime. Could it be to the level that we could prevent some crimes by altering police patrols and enforcement or would those shifts simply shift the areas where crime is committed?

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