New Orleans Developer Introduces New Visualization of Crime Incidents with Heatmap

Safety in New Orleans is often described as changing from block to block.

Many of the existing crime maps categorize incidents with small, often overlapping icons, many of which are categorized as “other” leaving much to the imagination about a particular area’s safety.

NOLA Crime HeatmapSoftware developer at TurboSquid has created the NOLA Crime Heatmap, which was created by collecting local police incident reports from a number of other sites and aggregating the feed into Google Maps’ Visualization Library.

The Heatmap uses that data and shows crime by concentration in certain areas with green and red colors. Green dots represent individual incidents; the more dots in certain areas, the more red those areas become.

“I’m not trying to say that certain area are less safe than others,” said Eckel. “I’m trying to say there are better, more effective ways of looking at incident data.”

Eckel posted the map on reddit and has already received dozens of comments and suggestions, such as separating types of assaults and having multiple categories overlaid at once.

One user wants to be able to see which cases are open and still under investigation. Eckel replied, “Anytime you see data like this and you are trying to draw a conclusion (like which areas are ‘unsafe’ or ‘safe’) it’s important to ask how the data was collected. As far as I know, this is raw incident data. This means that it does not contain any information which may have been gained in the followups of the investigations.”

Since Eckel can only collect data from existing sites, he says he is limited to what he could “scrape from these crappy sites.” Users have already pointed out that the categories are important, but so are number of data points and the time at which that map was last updated. Eckel says he is working on updates despite his busy schedule.