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September 03, 2008

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Tom

Hmph. This has been in beta for a while, and there's not a lot apparently new here. There's been a crime mapping website for quite a while, in fact (http://www.met.police.uk/crimefigures/ for at least two years, although with practically zero publicity).

What's new:

a) the publicity
b) it aggregates three kinds of common crime (burglary, robbery and vehicle crime) into a kind of uber-crime group. I've no idea why.
c) it goes down to sub-ward level instead of ward
d) apart from not separating out the crimes it does include, it doesn't include a large number of high-profile crimes, including homicide, rape, sexual offences, gun crime, racist and homophobic crime which the older site includes at borough level, and which completely gives the game away about murder in London being specific to particular areas. Even at ward level the older site has far better coverage, for instance it tells me that violence against the person is marginally more round my way.
e) it uses snazzy Web 2.0 mappy stuff.

What's the same:
a) the stats are virtually meaningless in many cases, and what meaning there is in them requires at least a nodding acquaintance with statistics.
b) crime is nevertheless still going down, according to them.

In fact, the game is given away a bit, since the older site is linked as 'Detailed Crime Figures' off the new one.

All in all, it's a Fisher-Price presentation of data that were already publicly available and which a half-decent Perl or Python hacker could have conjured into something equivalent for rather less than £210k. Still, it's pretty, and tells me I apparently live in a no-crime area. The only way is up.

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