Escaping the pushpin paradigm in geographic information science: (re)presenting national crime data

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Abstract

In 2011 the Home Office released the police.uk website, which provided a high-resolution map of recent crime data for the national extents of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Through this free service, crimes were represented as points plotted on top of a Google map, visible down to a street level of resolution. However, in order to maintain confidentiality and to comply with data disclosure legislation, individual-level crimes were aggregated into points that represented clusters of events that were located over a series of streets. However, with aggregation the representation of crimes as points becomes problematic, engendering spurious precision over where crimes occurred. Given obvious public sensitivity to such information, there are social imperatives for appropriate representation of crime data, and as such, in this paper we present a method of translating the ‘point’ crime events into a new representational form that is tied to street network geography; presenting these results in an alternate national crime mapping portal http://www.policestreets.co.uk.

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