State Mapping Projects

Many states have begun to use mapping to analyze crime. The projects outlined below provide examples of state crime mapping activities.

The Alaska Statistical Analysis Center has established an ESRI-based geo-database spanning the state and focusing on the primary population centers, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Currently, the SAC has gathered calls for service and incident data from the Alaska State Troopers and the Anchorage Police Department for 1998 through 2003. This information has been geo-coded and layer maps have been generated. The geo-database includes not only the crime location information, but also the locations of roads, schools, bars, businesses, mobile home parks, census information, etc. The data collection is an ongoing project, and spatial analysis methods are in progress, and in planning, to provide statistical information for law enforcement and other justice agencies.

The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice obtained data from a variety of criminal justice and non-criminal justice sources (such as schools). These data were mapped over a six-county area to 1) cross traditional boundaries and 2) provide GIS data to policy makers to decide what resources are needed and where those resources should be placed.

The Delaware Statistical Analysis Center used mapping technology to show the relationship between residence of offenders released from incarceration and the availability of employment, mental health, social service, and substance abuse treatment.

The Crime Prevention and Justice Assistance Division of the State's Department of the Attorney General utilized Bureau of Justice Statistics funds to work in partnership with the University of Hawaii to conduct a crime mapping study of juvenile crime in the City and County of Honolulu using data from the state's comprehensive Juvenile Justice Information System. In their capacity as a federally-designated Project Safe Neighborhoods research partner, the Division is also utilizing GIS technology to assist the U.S. Attorney in Hawaii's PSN activities. Finally, the Division recently assisted our Lieutenant Governor by coordinating a multi-agency (public and private) effort to map Hawaii's drug treatment and prevention resources.

Recognized as one of the most important and popular innovations in American policing in the past decade, crime mapping utilized in conjunction with crime analysis has become a key step in the sequence of activities aimed at conceiving, implementing, and evaluating measures to prevent crime. As a result, staff from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority's Research and Analysis Unit have developed A Crime Analyst's Guide to Mapping. This manual is primarily intended for the beginning analyst working at small- and medium-sized police departments, although experienced crime mappers may learn from later chapters. The department that has not yet implemented mapping systems will find the initial chapter especially useful, in addition to the resources section in the back of the manual. Although the manual is not intended as a guide to any particular software, it will serve as a guide for understanding general mapping, GIS, and spatial analysis concepts. Readers will also get a flavor for how mapping can be used to assist police department personnel, from the chief to investigators to patrol officers.

The SAC has also developed the Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Crime (STAC) package. On an ongoing basis, the R & A unit investigates, develops and tests geographical-based statistical methods that can be used by law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies. The Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Crime (STAC) software package and the GeoArchive, a geographical database of law enforcement and community data, were developed as part of these efforts. STAC is a statistical toolbox for analyzing and interpreting mapped data. STAC, originally developed pursuant to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, won a prestigious award from the Kennedy School of Government and the Ford Foundation. The software is available from the Authority at no cost to law enforcement agencies. It is currently being re-written as a Windows application. Staff is using innovative internet-based applications to provide ongoing information, software and technical support to STAC users. For more information, please contact Carolyn Block. You can also read about STAC in Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Crime Program Hot Spot Areas: A Statistical tool for Law Enforcement Decisions.

In addition to STAC, the ICJIA has also developed the GeoArchive database of community and law enforcement data. The STAC program uses the GeoArchive data to identify the most dense areas or "Hot Spot Areas." The package also provides other geographic searches and statistics.

The ICJIA also used STAC and the GeoArchive to support gang violence reduction programming in Illinois. The agency assembles data from law enforcement and other sources and conducts a variety of spatial analyses for program development and evaluation purposes. The emphasis for this project was the expansion of gang violence reduction programs in Chicago. Mapping was used to identify target neighborhoods and establish baseline measures for evaluation.

The Massachusetts Association of Crime Analysts provides articles on crime analysis issues on their web site.

North Carolina
The Governor's Crime Commission, in a joint project with NC State University, is in the process of combining GIS and neural network analysis to forecast/target areas with the potential for increasing juvenile crime. The Commission also implemented a geographic information system to aid crime analysis activities within the community policing environment of Asheville, North Carolina.

The Commission has published Crime Mapping for Small and Medium Jurisdictions, a best practices manual for GIS and law enforcement.

South Carolina
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety used SC incident-based data to provide an overview of violent crime involving the use of a firearm.

The DPS also documented some of the challenges to analyzing, mapping, and linking NIBRS data to other data available in the state. The primary purpose of the project was to determine the feasibility of using crime data maintained at the local level to do spatial analysis. The results were compiled in the report Challenges to Mapping and Linking NIBRS Data in South Carolina. If you would like a copy of this report, please contact the SCDPS.

The Vermont Center of Justice Research extracted incident-based crime reports from Vermont's Incident-Based Reporting System (VIBRS) for analysis. Spatial analysis and mapping were conducted using ArcView GIS software.