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5/18/2005
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Web Site Maps Murders, Mayhem

The murder of Duane Polk, a 26-year-old gunned down May 5 about a block from his Southside Chicago home, warranted only 148 words in the next day's Chicago Tribune. But a new Web site that combines crime statistics from the Chicago Police Department and Google maps lets anyone with Web access pinpoint the block where an assailant shot Polk or where any other

The murder of Duane Polk, a 26-year-old gunned down May 5 about a block from his Southside Chicago home, warranted only 148 words in the next day's Chicago Tribune. But a new Web site that combines crime statistics from the Chicago Police Department and Google maps lets anyone with Web access pinpoint the block where an assailant shot Polk or where any other crime occurred in the Windy City.Known as Chicagocrime.org, the site is the brainchild of a Chicago Web developer with a background in journalism and databases who, according to the Web site, wants to remain anonymous for privacy and security concerns. The site, designed by a friend of the developer, does not use cookies.

Chicago Crime Map

(click image for larger view)

Simply, the site employs dropdown menus from which users can pick the type of crime, location, time, and date. Balloon-shaped pins appear on the map showing the blocks where crimes occurred. Click on the pin and get more information about the crime, including extra links for additional details. Data can be sorted in numerous ways, including by police precinct, beats, and block.

Click on a link for a specific crime, and the site will list the latest police postings for that specific offense, as well as the most common type of locations-streets, sidewalks, residence, public buildings, and so on-where these crimes took place.

Chicagocrime.org offers RSS feeds the contain the latest crimes for each police beat and each city block.

Once a day, Chicagocrime.org automatically downloads crime data from Citizen ICAM, an online database operated by the Chicago police that lets the public search for recently reported crimes. Citizen ICAM only keeps 90 days worth of data, which limits Chicagocrime.org offerings to the same three-month period. There's a one-week delay before Chicago authorities post online the city crime stats.

Slicing and dicing the data, here are some interesting stats Chicagocrime.org offers about Chicago crime over the past three months:

  • Day with the most crimes: March 18 (1,037 crimes)
  • Day with the fewest crimes: May 5 (470 crimes)
  • Hour with most crime: 2 p.m. March 2
  • Most commonly reported crimes: simple battery, criminal damage to vehicle, and criminal damage to property
  • Most common crime location: street, residence, and sidewalk

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