Thursday, March 21, 2013

Summary of Findings (White Team): Crime Mapping Analysis (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the 8 articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst College in March 2013 regarding Crime Mapping Analysis specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.


Crime mapping is a method that can be used to provide a visual representation of the crime trends and patterns within a jurisdiction. Crime mapping has the ability to increase the capability of the user to identify the “hotspots” or areas within the city with the highest prevalence of crime. Additionally, crime mapping has the ability to provide directionality to where crime may be migrating within the jurisdiction, allowing for an increased amount of resources by law enforcement agencies to be allocated in these areas.


1. Provides visualization of crime trends, patterns, and series.
2. Aids with the practice of intelligence-led policing.
3. Analysis will assist decision makers in formulating strategic and tactical decisions to prevent or minimize crime.
4. Provides the ability to demonstrate directionality of crime.


1. Only reports crimes reported to police, not victimization accounts.
2. Just mapping crime data does not help with policing efforts if analysis can not occur from that. Effectiveness is highly reliant on the ability of the officer to use the intelligence to be proactive in their policing efforts.
3. Crime mapping can be prone to confirmation bias.
4. Can be prone to communication problems with decision-makers of what the data conveys.
5. The map can be difficult to interpret if crime locations are overlapping.

Step by Step Action: (Crime Mapping in General)

1. Determine the area of analysis so data can be gathered to create crime maps.
2. Choose crimes that are the most urgent to analyze according to the law enforcement agencies’ needs.
3. Look for hotspots or potential areas of clustered criminal activity.
4. Analyze past crime maps of the jurisdiction to determine if hot spot areas have remained the same for certain crimes, or have migrated to a different area of the jurisdiction.


As a class we went onto to get the crime data for Philadelphia, PA. Each member of the class was given a map of the districts of the city of Philadelphia. Furthermore, each member of the class was given crimes to look up on and determine where the largest amount or most highly clustered of these crimes occurred. Next, we determined what district these crimes occurred most frequently. The culmination of these events allowed the class a basic visualization of where the more crime prone areas of Philadelphia are located based on the crime chosen to analyze.

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