Stamen Design, the incredibly innovative design firm/research lab behind such wonderful data visualizations as Cabspotting.org and Graffiti Archaeology, have launched Oakland Crimespotting, an interactive map of crimes in that city. Once a day, the system scrapes crime reports from the Oakland Police Department’s Crimewatch site. The information about specific aggravated assaults, murders, acts of arson, vandalism, narcotics, prostitution, and a host of other crimes is then mapped onto Microsoft Virtual Earth. From the project description:
Our map view is completely explorable – it’s possible to pan and zoom, select date ranges in the past, and view specific kinds of crimes. You can also share links directly to a particular view of the map, which is important for sharing and publishing information. If you don’t have the required Flash plug-in to view the interactive map, we have a browseable crime database with maps in image form for combinations of dates and types of crime.
We believe that this map-first approach is a valuable and sensible way to publish information for people to use – everyone knows how to find their house, school, or workplace on a map, but few people remember relevant details such as the city council district or police beat these places occupy.