Crime mapping, Kyoto & the Tories

Back from Japan, and warming up for a couple of big posts, I notice from the Telegraph that the Tories want crime maps published to the public (youtube video). Some people might know that in the past, I was working on crime mapping, and crime perceptions hence my interest. Also good to see the release of geospatial data becoming a political issue.

Over in Kyoto, Japan, I spotted a map, published and displayed in the subway station:


Which, is the hotspot map (just number of incidences) of one particular type of crime. Perhaps someone could tell me what it is its mapping exactly (robbery / theft from person is my guess) big pic is here. But I was happy to see it there, as it might be an indication that they have my belief that access to accurate information and data about crime would actually reduce the fear of crime, and inform people that the streets are really quite safe and not full of danger.

Back to the UK. The Conservatives “Giving the Public a Crime Map” (pdf) is worth a look. It looks at existing sites, including the quite good site from West Yorkshire Police Authority, As currently, although there is a requirement to communicate to the public, and produce figures, there is no requirement for the police and councils (they are meant to work in partnership with each other) to produce maps, and maps which show crimes at a high level of detail. Also, each partnership seems to be doing their own thing.

They reckon the costs would be quite unbelievably cheap “just £20,000 to cover the website and an official to make sure the figures were accurate and up to date”. Triple that, at least, a one site fits all approach probably will fail, as each authority and division works in a different way, they have different software, servers etc, but they may be hinting at a central website.

For the mapping side of things, the issue of privacy comes up. Nice to see the idea of highlighting a road, or part of a road, instead of randomising a point location (for more sensitive locations).

They also say that they would be able to release the data for third parties to use, hinting that we would be able to make map mashup. But I bet they will say “oh sorry, it’s crown copyright afterall, as we use a geocoder using the postoffice address file”, you cannot use it. Thus making the benefits marginal, and keeping the data centralised and controlled, something the tories criticise the government of doing.

4 thoughts on “Crime mapping, Kyoto & the Tories

  1. We’d be willing to offer our mapping and database services to the UK for free. Spotcrime in the US has compiled data from multiple sources to become one of the largest uniform nationwide crime mashups.

  2. Great stuff to have good services for free – the main thing, however, is open access to the data – and in the UK, good quality geocoders (good enough to be able to satisfy the accuracy and privacy issues required) are not free. Also, even just matching an address with a postcode (let alone geocoding it) can render a database un-free. The two key terms are “derivative works” and “database copyright”.

    However, one solution may be for the released data to not be geocoded, and just have the addresses in there – letting third parties geocode them. Data cleansing could be applied beforehand to obfuscate the addresses based on the rules. We’ll have to see if they are willing to release full addresses of locations – it could be unpopular, and possibly break the data protection act (identification of individuals; apparently a postcode is non-identifying). Of course, I Am Not A Lawyer, etc.

  3. Pingback: Brain Off » OpenStreetMap in Japan :: Mikel Maron :: Building Digital Technology for Our Planet

  4. Pingback: Foreign Policy’s Tuesday Map Blog | Off the Map - Official Blog of FortiusOne

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