Mapping center could shed light on crime
- By Bryant Jordan
- Nov 26, 2000
The Justice Department's research arm is hoping a prototypical crime-mapping
center to be established next year for the Charlotte, N.C., area will be
the start of a chain of centers that would give researchers insight into
The spatial data repository will be made up of various public databases,
with the information geographically tagged so that users can put a crime
or series of crimes in the context of space.
"If a researcher is interested in knowing the relationship between
juvenile crimes and various other predictors, they can [use the repository
to] look at the time of day, the distance to schools, the distance to convenience
stores and the presence or absence of places with liquor licenses," said
Don Brown, whose University of Virginia computer systems department is designing
The data to be stored and tagged is not limited to criminal incidents
and can include traffic patterns, demographics, retail manufacturing and
school locations. It is data that communities already store, but is often
not readily accessible to law enforcement officials or researchers, Brown
What will go into the repository, he said, "depends on how much information
people would like to make available."
At the National Institute of Justice, which conducts crime research
for the Justice Department, an official said if the prototype is successful,
money to develop a fully operational spatial data repository would be requested
for the 2002 budget.
"What we're trying to do is develop a resource for criminal justice
researchers rather than . an operational system for local law enforcement,"
said Liz Groff, acting director of NIJ's Crime Mapping Research Center in
NIJ is funding the prototypical repository for $35,000, Groff said.
The prototypical repository will include databases supplied by Charlotte
and the surrounding Mecklenburg County, but will be accessible to researchers
and law enforcement agencies elsewhere.