Friday, 30 May 2008

Why Boris and Dave are wrong about crime mapping

As a GIS professional it is nice to see our field of work at the front of national politics for once.

However the Tories are making a fundamental error in suggesting live data should be available to the public.

Crime hotspot analysis is first and foremost an intelligence tool. By modelling where crime is occurring at different times of day it is in theory possible to quantify risk and deploy your resources to respond to that risk.

So what will the Tories plans achieve put simply they will ensure the police are sharing their intelligence with the criminal fraternity.

Take burglary for example. Under Daves new world the IT savy local burglar can now check out where his competitors are working see the hotspot pattern and move to another part of town away from the focussed police presence designed to catch him. Then 2 months later when the insurance claims are settled he has a nice list of properties to revisit safe in the knowledge that the TV is brand spanking new.

In short if would be like the USA sharing their troop deployment with Russia in real time at the height of the cold war.

Far from forcing forces to spend time and effort on these shiny new web sites they should invest the same resources into improving the analysis infrastructure of forces to maximise access to this information at the beat level rather than leaving it trapped with a small group of highly professional analysts