Monday, December 16, 2013

Intentional omission?

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.


Steve said...

Maybe they were working on it late one night and either forgot, or were just too tired to include details, in which case, it would be a nocturnal ommission.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Oh Steve, you are so funny.......NOT!!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's just more of this. Not having incident/case numbers sure would make it a lot harder to look into incidents to ensure that they weren't...mis-reported. They've been doing that shell game at NYPD (and many other major metro PDs) for decades.

Anonymous said...

Here is another example of NYPD mis-reporting (flat-out lying) on crime stats. There are so many of these you could fill a good-sized book with them. When you can't reduce crime, it's politically useful to at least make it look like you have. The mayor, commissioner, chief, station and watch commanders, etc all have a vested interest in having the public snowed.