Met launches London crime maps

London’s Metropolitan Police has launched the first test of its planned ‘crime mapping’ application, and at first glance, it’s really quite nice. There’s data from borough to ‘sub-ward’ (a few streets), although at the moment it’s only carrying aggregated totals of ‘burglary, robbery and vehicle crime’.
The ‘high/average/low’ colour coding makes it easy to take in; and navigation is pretty good. The selection of statistical geography is inferred from the zoom level of the map – a method which has its ups and downs. But with a postcode search, it’s easy to go directly to ‘your patch’. (I’m a bit dubious about the accuracy of the boundaries, though.) Throw in some nice little Javascript-y UI touches, and you’ve got an excellent start – with the promise of ‘further enhancements … prior to the formal launch of the service in September.’
But what’s most striking about this? It’s done on Google Maps. Here’s a extra-high-profile government mapping application, and they’ve made a conscious – and entirely predictable – decision not to build it using the tool provided by the government’s own mapping agency.
It’s not a million miles away from the vision put forward by the Power of Information taskforce; Tom Loosemore calls it ‘a decent first effort’, but laments the ‘lack of proper profile for your local coppers’.

2 thoughts on “Met launches London crime maps”

  1. Shane McCracken has some interesting thoughts about the use of ‘zones’ rather than dots representing ‘exact’ crime locations.
    I suspect the decision to use zones is based on mitigation of the privacy / confidentiality concerns, not to mention the sheer practicalities of capturing precise long/lat (if it’s even possible to identify a location).
    But I can well believe that point data will reveal things which zones can’t. Maybe this is one area where it’s desirable for the ‘professionals’ to have the point data, but less than sensible to make it generally available.

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