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:

and

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, BeatCrime.info. 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.