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Spotlight on Computerized Crime Mapping

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 64 Issue: 12 Dated: (December 1997) Pages: 60-61,63-69
L Pilant
Date Published
9 pages
Computerized crime mapping combines geographic information from global positioning satellites with crime statistics gathered by police departments and demographic data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and private companies.
Geographic and demographic data are widely available, and computerized street maps and many other sources of information can be obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Computer-aided design (CAD) systems of police departments can produce geocoded data. Geocoding is a standard CAD feature that verifies addresses and associates other geographic information with the addresses, including police reporting areas and districts. To be usable, data must be accurate and applicable to the particular police organization and must be regularly updated and maintained. Most mapping experts believe there are two ways to implement computerized crime mapping: (1) build a unit with hardware, software, and police officers who have crime analysis expertise and training; and (2) implement the mapping function and make it accessible to all police officers. The Information Collection for Automated Mapping (ICAM) system in Chicago is one of the first in the United States to be accessible to police officers on the street. The ICAM system can produce maps of reported offenses in a specific area, as well as charts of the 10 most frequently reported offenses in the same area. Computer mapping has also been implemented by the Casper, Wyoming, Police Department. The New York City Police Department uses CompStat, a program that correlates and maps crime statistics but makes police supervisors rather than police officers on the street responsible for lowering crime rates. CompStat maintains statistics and map patterns and establishes causal relationships among crime categories. The application of computerized crime mapping technology in other jurisdictions and by other organizations is discussed, and education and training aspects of computerized crime mapping are considered. A list of companies that produce crime analysis software is included.