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Getting to Know Public Crime Maps

Have you ever wondered about the crime in your neighborhood, but not sure how to find out more than what’s discussed on the evening news? Well one option is a public crime map offered by LexisNexis that allows users to access crime data from hundreds of jurisdictions across the United States and select regions of Canada. To access the map, just visit CommunityCrimeMap.com and begin by selecting a region. If a city or county does not appear under the list of options, it is likely because that law enforcement agency has yet to partner with LexisNexis to provide their crime data.

Once you have selected a jurisdiction, the map will zoom into that locality and automatically visualize major crimes that have occurred over the past month. From here, you can begin to customize your view by selecting the options on the left side of the screen, which allow you to adjust the date range, crime types, and map layers provided by the local law enforcement agency. You can even create a density layer in order to see where crime is most concentrated.

On the map itself, you can select any of the crimes and a pop-up will appear summarizing the crime type, date, time, incident number, and rough approximation of the location. Because the data is public, addresses are anonymized to the 100-block.

Using the search address, you can limit your view to only crimes that occur within a specific radius. For example, the following map shows only crimes that occurred within 0.5 miles of the desired address.

Above the map are four tabs. The “Data Grid” tab provides the same crime summary information available on the map, but in a list form. The “Metadata” tab shows which agencies are providing the crime data seen within your current view of the map. And the “Analytics” tab provides four graphics to help understand the crime trends occurring within the area you selected. The crime class pie chart helps visualize which crimes occur most often. The other three graphics visualize when the crimes have occurred.

At the top right of the screen is an option to sign up for crime alerts. This option allows users to get updates on crime without having to return to CommunityCrimeMap.com on a regular basis. Just provide an address, determine the search radius, select the crime types you wish to see, and set the frequency with which you want to receive updates; either daily, weekly, or monthly. This is a good way to keep up to date on the crime occurring around your neighborhood with a minimal investment of time on your part.

One limitation of CommunityCrimeMap.com is that it does not allow users to download the data for further analysis. Some cities provide crime data for public download on their own websites, such as Asheville, N.C., and even provide some simple visualizations. However, in order to create unique, specialized maps that visualize that downloaded data to your own specifications, you would need to make use of a geographic information system (GIS), such as ESRI’s ArcPRO software. If you have a project you're working on, but don’t have access to GIS software or need assistance actualizing your vision, I can help. Whether it’s visualizing data or providing key insights into the crime trends within the data, I have the software and expertise to make your project a reality. For more information on the CommunityCrimeMap.com or to request my services, just visit DouglasOeser.com or email me at Contact@DouglasOeser.com.

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