A faculty member at Wayne State College that I met on this trip sent me a short email last week, linking this article about New York City's new online crime map. NYPD must be about the last City of substance to publish a public-facing crime mapping application on the web (Lincoln started doing so in 1998.)
I had a look at the site myself, and several things impressed me. The performance was good. I liked the ability to visualize the data as a choropleth map ( precinct map), a continuous surface density map (the so-called "heat map"), and as graduated point symbols. I liked the statistics that pop up when you click on a precinct, and especially the comparative statistics that appear in the sidebar when you search for a specific address. It appears to be a location-aware app, judging from the GPS button at the top left, so I assume it will center itself on your current coordinates if you are using a location-aware device. The underlying base map is Google (if you doubt that, check out the point where West O Street crosses the Platte River.)
As noted by the critics, the app lacks any detail about the crime points, other than the incident type. At the bare minimum, I would want the date and time of occurrence, and the case number. I can imagine a precinct commander getting a call from the owner of a building who has noticed a nearby robbery and is inquiring about any details that the officer might be able to share. Without a case number, you'd be somewhat in the dark trying to figure out what case he or she refers to. If it were my patch, I'd be a bit embarrassed by that. Even if there was very little I could ethically or legally provide, there would at least be a few public record details that might be informative, and would prevent me from appearing to be clueless, or, alternatively, require that I turn to the internal system and try to match up the point in question with its case number.
Nonetheless, this is an attractive and functional app, and I'd say a good start. I just wonder what the discussions were that led to the decision to exclude time, date, and case number. I don't think that could possibly be a mere oversight; it must be intentional.