One of the first sites that kicked off the whole "map mashup" craze was Adrian Holovaty's ChicagoCrime
, which showed the locations of crimes in Chicago placed on a Google map. The site has since been integrated
into Holovaty's startup, EveryBlock. However, the idea of an online crime map is certainly now considered quite a useful concept. Unless, you're the police, apparently. Over in the UK, police are complaining about a proposed online crime map
, saying that it will help criminals figure out how to go where the police aren't. Indeed, we've already seen that various police departments use data mining tools to try to predict
where new crimes will occur, but it seems a bit overblown to suggest that an online crime map would really be such a problem.
First of all, it assumes that criminals are smart enough to plan out their crimes by going online and seeking out low crime areas ahead of time. While that may be true of a few, it seems unlikely that your average criminal is going to do that. Second, there's usually a reason
why crimes cluster in certain areas, and it's not like criminals are suddenly going to run to a new neighborhood because an online map shows there's plenty of (or little) crime there. It seems likely that most criminals in high crime areas already know
that it's a high crime area. And, if all these criminals suddenly run to low crime areas, then the police should be able to adjust, right? Worst case, they just send more patrols to the low crime areas, since according to their own logic, that's where the criminals will head. And that, of course, shows the fallacy of the police officers' worries. They know that criminals won't rush to low crime areas, or there wouldn't even be an issue here.