Plotting A Crime… Map

Our project aims to uncover a deeper layer behind criminal activity of Atlanta, using not only datasets of crime reports but also code violations and other census data. By illustrating a more complete picture of the contexts and the trends of crimes in Atlanta, we hope to find some previously unseen factors that go into making an environment more prone to criminal activity and thus influence crime prevention methods. 
The DSSG WCA team is comprised of Shawn Staudaher, Firaz Peer, and Yeji Lee, and we’re advised by Dr. Ellen Zegura. The map we create will be on the Westside Communities Alliance’s Data Dashboard under Public Safety so that various community partners and residents can have an easy access to the data analysis and visualization. 
We began the process by looking through different crime maps of other cities as well as Atlanta to get a sense of different ways of portraying crime on a map, and we found an interesting academic article on the practice of mapping crime.
We also looked at other mapping projects in general, and also ones that have looked at crime in particular., developed by the MIT Media Lab stood out for how comprehensive it was, and for the variety of stories it can tell. Another interesting one created by New York Times visualized crime data from the five boroughs in New York. The article linked to it mentioned how some researchers have found that the number of homicides in New York City increase with the rise in temperatures! 
WCA has already collected the data on code violations and crime reports from 1997 to 2008 from the Atlanta Police Department (APD), which made the data collection process very easy for us. After receiving the data from WCA, we began to play around with it using Tableau to see if we could detect any trends or patterns early on. 
The above is a snapshot of one of the maps we’ve generated. The different colors of dots represent different types of crime, so you can see that the majority of the crimes that occur in the central and southern part of Atlanta are auto theftsand aggrevated assault, and that as you go further north (which is also where the median income drastically increases), the crime types change to larceny and burglaries. 
We also plan to aggregate the data into various figures which will showcase how the Westside compares to Atlanta as a whole, the strengths of the community, and how the area is improving and becoming a safer place. The figure above divides the crime into their so-called “UC-2 Literals”, which is the type of crime commited. By further dividing these categories between crimes commited in the whole of Atlanta and crimes commited in the Westside, we can compare how often particular crimes occur in the Westside versus the rest of the city. For instance, roughly 10% of the crime in Atlanta comes from the Westside, while only 6.5% of larcenies from a vehicle comes from the Westside. This means that relative to the rest of the city, the Westside has fewer larcenies from vehicles. We could then investigate this further by gathering data about car ownership in the city. Either less people own cars or some other factor is causing larcenies from a vehicle to be relatively fewer in the Westside.
In terms of our next steps, we will be meeting with the WCA folks this Wednesday to discuss specifics about their preferences on software, the possibility of interacting directly with community residents (perhaps through volunteering at the WCA’s pop-up computer lab), and any other ideas that they may have.