Crime maps provide important data

Re: Crime map proposal loses way, Advocate, Jan. 6, 2015, by Crystal Rhyno I find the above article not only timely, but also relevant in the light of an alarming increase in various forms of crime in Central Alberta. It would be desirable if city council could reconsider Coun. Buck Buchanan’s proposal for the reasons cited below.

Re: Crime map proposal loses way, Advocate, Jan. 6, 2015, by Crystal Rhyno

I find the above article not only timely, but also relevant in the light of an alarming increase in various forms of crime in Central Alberta. It would be desirable if city council could reconsider Coun. Buck Buchanan’s proposal for the reasons cited below.

Maps have been invaluable tools since antiquity, a graphical presentation of information over space and time. Furthermore, a crime map (like other thematic maps) is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

On the one hand, these maps can simply present the distribution of a phenomenon for a unit area, like the student project on mapping crime in Red Deer submitted in my human geography class at Red Deer College in 2002, using a 3-D DEM technique that showed ‘hot spots’ and other features using GIS Mapping, basically a descriptive study.

Crime maps can also facilitate longitudinal studies by identifying spatial patterns and trends over time. An example would be Kim Rossmo’s study of missing women in Vancouver’s East End, in the 1990s.

As quite rightly pointed out by Bill Stuebing, crime maps can, in this instance, also help create a city crime index by recording reliable victimization data, both violent and non-violent; a database that provides insights into socio-economic factors, the propensity to commit crime, and also crime linkages/patterns.

Yes, the big picture matters!

Why Red Deer?

I can cite four reasons. We are the third largest city in Alberta, and fast approaching CMA status. We also have a relatively large per cent of transient population, given our site and situation along Hwy 2 (criminals also consider location!). A third factor is the changing demographics through mostly in-migration. As well, the threat of a provincial economic downturn that could spike criminal activity beyond control.

Now, to the question of money. Obviously, a cost-benefit analysis is paramount. The Community Safety committee should explore the cost-effectiveness and, if it is, the project should go ahead, with the city, the public, and the RCMP working in co-operation.

The two subsequent articles in the Advocate (Wake up, people!, Jan. 17; Can you spot the fakes?, Jan. 24) lend further credence to the usefulness of crime mapping. Let’s think and plan for the future.

Raj Navaratnam

Human Geographer and Community Researcher

Red Deer

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