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Survey and Evaluation of Online Crime Mapping Companies

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2012
25 pages
This study produced a baseline assessment of the state of the online crime-mapping field, with attention to the number of online crime-mapping companies, the basic functions and services they provide, and their accuracy in reproducing the local crime data of a police agency.
Seven different online mapping companies were identified and canvassed on a number of topics related to their businesses. Overall, there was a wide variety of function and analysis capabilities across the various online mapping companies. The range of police agencies served by online mapping companies varied from a low of 16 cities for Everyblock.com to over 1,700 cities for Crimereports.com. Although services and analysis capabilities are provided for police agencies, they are generally displayed and reported at the city level in order to make civilian interpretation easier. Thus, when people want to view data for a police department, they are presented with a map of the geographic area overlaid with crime data. Almost all of the companies provided coverage of the same types of crimes, with the major determinant being the type of data they receive from the corresponding agency. The greatest amount of variation among the companies is in the mapping functions available to users of the site. Although all companies provide the capability to view pin maps of crime data, the types of analysis functions vary among the companies. In terms of temporal analysis, the majority of companies allowed users to select their own date range, with some companies providing date range of over 6 months. Regarding data accuracy, it is affected by many factors, several of which are beyond the control of the online mapping companies. These factors are identified and discussed. 8 tables, 2 figures, a 3-item bibliography, and appended distance equation used and an outline of information requested from companies

Date Published: February 1, 2012