Collaboration in Civic Spheres

User Guide: Seattle Police Department Crime Mapping Tool

by Andrew Hart July 29th, 2010

BACKGROUND, AND KEY LINK: Hoping to make crime information more accessible and timely, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) began publishing police reports for robberies, burglaries, aggravated assaults and homicides online here earlier in 2010. In June, SPD supplemented this effort with a customizable online mapping tool depicting crime in the Seattle area. The SPD crime mapping site details recent incidents including crimes against persons, drugs, vice and property crime for different neighborhoods and time frames. The SPD strives to post crimes 12 hours after they occur.

Crimes are depicted on the interactive map as categorized icons, and upon selection display details of the incident and a link to the police report. To access the police report, users are asked to register an e-mail and password and agree to the terms and conditions. The SPD has stated that not all crimes are reported, as is the case for some Type II crimes and crimes where there is need to be sensitive to the identity of victims and officers.

Two years in development, the SPD crime map is a step forward for police department transparency and civic awareness. From monitoring neighborhood criminal activity to making real estate decisions, the map can be a valuable tool for citizens. Below follows a brief guide to the map and its features.

HOW TO USE THE SITE

  • Go directly to the key link, the crime map site.
  • Navigate the map to the desired area using the arrow keys, or clicking and dragging the map.
  • Zoom in or out using the “+” and “-” buttons located in the upper left corner of the map, or by keying “+” or “-,” or by double clicking on the desired location.
  • To target a specific address or neighborhood, use the search tool located in the upper left of the page. This allows you to “Enter a Seattle Address” in a field or select a “Neighborhood” from a drop down menu.
  • The “Services” mode marks the public service locations in the selected area (Ex. fire and police stations, schools, parks, utilities). In addition to their location on the map, the services are listed in a table below the map. This table can be toggled to display the areas “Elected Officials” and links to “Community” related resources (events, blogs).
  • The “911 Incident Responses” mode marks the locations and category (e.g. personal crime, drugs and vice, property crime, transportation, fire) of 911 incident responses. Navigation is done in the same fashion, mouse, arrows, “+” and “-,” and the search field. To the left of the table it is possible to modify the type of responses to be displayed. In the lower left corner, it is possible to set the time range of incident responses displayed. By clicking on one of the icons representing an Incident Response, a window is displayed describing the type of incident, CAD Event Number, location, and time.
  • The “Police Reports” mode is much the same as 911 Incident Responses. Navigation is the same, users can select the type of report to be displayed, and by clicking on the icons on the map, a window is displayed describing the type of incident, GO Number, location, time, and a link to the police report. The incidents displayed on the map are the events processed in the last 12 hours.
  • To view a police report, you must register with the site and log-in. NOTE: Some reports may not be displayed. This can be due to the nature of the crime. Serious offenses take up to three days to be posted. The report may be withheld if it is deemed to be a risk to the victims or officers.
  • The “Statistics” mode displays month-by-month crime statistics for the city, or for individual police beats. The graph of statistics is displayed the map, and the controls for “Citywide” and “Police Beat” specification is at the upper left hand corner of the graph. The sidebar at the left of the map and graph contains the location search field, and a drop down menu that allows you to isolate a specific type of crime to view the statistics of. Map navigation is the same.

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