The Crimespotting project – developed by Stamen Design in San Francisco – makes it possible to map out crimes around Oakland and San Francisco. The founders believe that crime information should be exposed to the public in a more open way, without having to rely on which stories make it to the front page of the newspaper. To keep the maps up to date they collect the crime reports from ‘Crime Watch’, the community crime mapping website of the cities.
On the website of Crimespotting it is possible to explore interactive maps, browse crime reports by day and by type and to sign up to receive e-mail alerts and RSS feeds for crime reports in a specific neighborhood. The maps are completely explorable – you can pan and zoom, manipulate both the date and time range and view specific kind of crimes ranging from alcohol-related to theft to murder.
For example, I searched for reports of prostitution in Oakland in January 2012, as shown below. It seems that there were 27 conducts of prostitution, mostly in the first half of the month. When you click on one of the reports (blue dots) the exact date and time is given, together with a link to another page with more detailed information about the specific case. On this page it is also possible to see related and nearby reports, or to leave a comment.
Definitely a cool way to explore crime trends in a city. Although unfortunately, much of the data seems days or even weeks old, as the site notes along the top. Hopefully in the future, real-time crime data can be used to make the maps more up to date.