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domingo, 25 de setembro de 2011

Crime Maps Beta

District 9 Movie Creates Online Crime Map

by Matt Ball on August 21, 2009
The movie District 9, that opened in theaters last week, details a segregated society between humans and aliens. To support the film there’s a web mapping feature that pictures the segregated city, with crime maps for both humans and non-humans. The site makes good use of a map interface, with embedded media pop-ups that include both videos and photos. Initial login is for humans and non-humans, and if you click on the other area a pop-up indicates that you’re not authorized to enter.
The movie looks like an intense science fiction action adventure film. The movie plot is also a thinly veiled exploration of a segregated society, including racism between these species. The movie got some great reviews , and I’m off to see it tonight.

Online crime maps crash under weight of 18 million hits an hour

Home Office admits to technical problems with new crime-mapping website that is designed to 'put power in the hands of the people'
  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Article history
  • police crime map
    Police.uk, which launched this morning, crashed amid 75,000 hits per minute. The government called the initiative an 'important step in accountability and transparency'.
    The Home Office said this afternoon the number of hits on its new online crime maps had surged to 18 million an hour as the website crashed repeatedly.
    The department blamed "temporary" technical problems on the unexpected level of demand from residents seeking to discover the levels of crime and antisocial behaviour in their area.
    The detailed maps, published for the first time today, provide a monthly snapshot of crime and antisocial behaviour on every street across England and Wales.
    Nick Herbert, the minister for policing and criminal justice, denied there were technical problems when he was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, but by mid-morning the Home Office conceded many were struggling to access the site.
    By mid afternoon, the Home Office gave an updated figure of 300,000 hits per minute, or 18m an hour, with the site still appearing to be frozen by early evening.
    A Home Office spokeswoman said the department was "delighted" at the level of interest in the new information being provided online. "This is a temporary problem and we are working hard to fix it and hope to have the website back up shortly," she said.
    Herbert has hailed the publication of the maps, which are accessible by typing a postcode into the police.uk website, as a "very important step in accountability and transparency", which he said could help ensure the police is responsive "to what the local community wants".
    Home Office ministers say it is unprecedented for such interactive crime maps to be published for an entire country and that it has been done without compromising the privacy of victims and witnesses, or having a negative effect on house prices.
    The maps also provide contact details for neighbourhood policing teams, information about forthcoming beat meetings, CCTV footage of local incidents, and in some cases even a Twitter feed from beat officers.
    Quarterly crime statistics have been available online at ward or local police division level for some time, but the £300,000 project launched today gives information about different types of crime and, for the first time, incidents of antisocial behaviour down to street level.
    The maps give street-by-street results for six types of offence, including burglary, robbery, vehicle crime, violence, and antisocial behaviour. Sexual offences are included in "other crime" to avoid revealing the location of victims.
    Herbert said the introduction of crime-mapping on this scale was the second major element in the coalition's police reform plans to improve accountability, alongside the introduction of elected police and crime commissioners.
    Herbert, an advocate of street-level crime-mapping after studying its success in Los Angeles, said there was "huge interest" among people wanting to know what is happening in their neighbourhood.
    While national crime statistics could be quite meaningless, it was "very relevant" to know there was a spate of burglaries in your area and then find out what's being done about it, he said.
    "I think we are putting power in the hands of people by giving them the information but, more than that, we are also giving them information about what they can do."
    He added that the maps could help to achieve a "connection" between the police and the public.
    "The police rely on information, they rely on active citizens to be telling them, to be taking part in things like neighbourhood watch," Herbert said.
    "We need to build this bridge and get communities and the police working together and we want the police to be responsive to what the local community wants."
    Six "trailblazing" forces are to go further in developing crime maps.
    The home secretary's own Thames Valley police are to map trends in late-night antisocial behaviour; Hampshire are to provide daily access to crime data; Lincolnshire and West Yorkshire are to explore providing information about convicted offenders alongside details of crimes; Surrey are to pioneer mobile phone use of the maps; and Leicestershire are developing an online case tracking system for victims.
    The data can be broken down by neighbourhood or narrowed down to individual street level, revealing the shifting patterns of local crime hotspots over time.
    Glover's Court in Preston emerges as one of the streets with most recorded crime – 152 incidents in December, 44 of which involved violent offences.
    The unusual pattern of 148 asbo incidents in Bolnore Road, Haywards Heath, is thought to relate to the way hoax calls are recorded centrally at the local police station by the Sussex police force.
    The information commissioner, Christopher Graham, who was consulted by the police over the exercise, said last night that blocks and zones were the most privacy-friendly way of crime-mapping, and that a strong public interest case would have to be made for the use of more intrusive indicators.
    "I welcome the drive to improve accountability through greater transparency. Crime-mapping can be an effective means of letting people know what crimes are taking place in their local area, although care needs to be taken as this can potentially have an impact on the privacy of individuals such as victims or witnesses," he said.
    The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, welcomed the crime maps, but said they "should also include police strength for forces across the UK".
    While accountability is an important and key part of neighbourhood policing, government accountability on the resources police have available is also necessary, she said.
    "Knowing where crime takes place isn't enough if there aren't sufficient police to deal with it," she said. "People want to know what effect the government's deep and rapid cuts to the police are going to have on their area.
    "Already since the general election we have lost around 2,000 police officers and, with 20% cuts to police budgets, this is only the thin end of the wedge."
    Research published today by the National Policing Improvement Agency, based on a trial involving 7,434 members of the public, shows that such web-based crime maps do not fuel fear of crime.
    Herbert challenged the idea that publishing such data could hit house prices – a concern voiced by estate agents in the past.
    "That can't be a reason not to tell the public what is happening," he said. "Crime cannot be swept under the carpet."
    Insurance companies, however, may come to rely on them in setting premiums.
    New guidelines from the information commissioner's office (ICO) say that those who publish crime maps need to have procedures in place to deal with concerns from victims of crime that their identity has been revealed, or householders who believe their property has been incorrectly labelled as a crime hotspot.
    The ICO says the most invasive practice would be to pinpoint a particular household as being linked to a particular crime. He warns against pinpointing an address as being indicative that a crime took place in a general area.
Citizens Chart Crime Using Online Maps
By José Domingo Guariglia *

NEW YORK, Aug 19, 2011 (IPS) - "I was walking down the street, talking on my cell phone, when a guy on a motorbike came by and grabbed the phone out of my hand. I ran after him but I couldn't catch him. He had probably been following me."

This message, from a person who had his cell phone stolen in the southern Brazilian city of São Paulo, was posted on WikiCrimes, a web site where citizens who have lost confidence in the effectiveness of police action can report crimes directly.

WikiCrimes in Brazil, and similar initiatives in Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Argentina and Chile, provide interactive maps that people can use to anonymously report crimes, describe what happened and pinpoint the location. In this way, crime mapping identifies danger zones - crime hotspots - within a region with generally high crime rates, to enhance people's awareness, preparedness and safety.

According to a report on Citizen Security and Human Rights, by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in early 2010 Latin America was the region with the highest average murder rate in the world, 25.6 per 100,000 population. Young people aged 15-29 were the most frequent victims, with a murder rate of 68.9 per 100,000 people in this age group.

The crime maps seek to supplement the paucity of official crime reports at police stations, and to guide implementation of policies to fight crime, Vasco Furtado, a systems engineer who created WikiCrimes, told IPS.

"It's very common nowadays to hear about someone who has been mugged, but who is not going to report it to the police because they are convinced nothing would be done. Surveys of victims of crime in Brazilian cities show that under-reporting in the most densely populated areas may be as high as 60 percent for some offences," he said.

WikiCrimes receives crime reports from around the world, although most originate in Brazil.

In Venezuela, crime data maps can be accessed at the VicTEAMS and QuieroPaz sites.

VicTEAMS was created in 2009 in reaction to the thousands of hold-ups, kidnappings and murders committed in Venezuela, and especially in the capital, Caracas, considered the second most dangerous city in Latin America after Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, according to a study by the Mexican Citizens' Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice (CCSP-JP).

An online Crime Map of Mexico City was created by the newspaper El Universal, and a Buenos Aires province "map of insecurity" was funded by Argentine businessman and centre-right lawmaker Francisco de Narváez.

Crime map sites have also been set up in Chile and Panama. The Chilean crime map distinguishes between official crime reports and online reports from citizens, and Mi Panamá Transparente (My Transparent Panama), created by a group of journalists and non-governmental organisations, widens the focus to include swindles and corruption.

The crime problem in Venezuela is exacerbated by the lack of official statistics, said Ángel Méndez, a consultant at Tendencias Digitales, a firm that carries out market research in the field of information technology.

"Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in Latin America, and unfortunately there are no official statistics to monitor the violence. Body counts from the morgues are published in the media every Monday, but there is no crime database available," Méndez told IPS.

Citizens as agents of change

According to VicTEAMS, online maps are a useful tool towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets adopted in 2000 by the international community to drastically reduce poverty, hunger, inequality, illness, mortality and environmental degradation across the globe by 2015.

The team responsible for crafting the web site attended an international workshop on "Engaging Citizens in Development Management and Public Governance for the Achievement of the MDGs", organised by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the government of the Spanish region of Catalonia in the regional capital, Barcelona, in June 2010.

The meeting produced the Barcelona Declaration on "The Critical Role of Public Service in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals", stating that "citizens' engagement has to be considered to accelerate the progress towards reaching the MDGs," and governments should work alongside citizens to address social problems proactively.

Wider access to the internet in Latin American countries has been crucial to the rise of online tools like crime maps. Governments and NGOs in the region are promoting free or low-cost access to information and communication technologies for low-income sectors of the population.

A Brazilian government programme called Computers for Inclusion, and the Infocentres that provide access and computer literacy courses in Venezuela, are typical of such initiatives.

Crime maps and the problem of data accuracy

The interactive capability of crime maps and other online tools can hinder their effectiveness, due to incomplete or inaccurate crime reporting.

"At WikiCrimes we are concerned about false reporting. It is up to users to provide the system with information that boosts its credibility. Links can be added to videos, newspapers, photos or any other document that supports the informant's credibility," Furtado said.

On interactive crime maps, the incidents reported depend on the goodwill of citizens, but cooperation with government agencies can be decisive.

"The authorities do not view WikiCrimes as their ally, because it challenges the status quo. They are afraid of being pressured by society," said Furtado.

Academics like Iria Puyosa, an expert on social networking and social capital, say "the problem of violent crime in Latin America will not be solved by online maps," which are useful to a limited extent, for fighting invisibility and the absence of information, she told IPS.

The impact of social networks

The connections between the worldwide web and other innovative technology, like cell phones, favour online crime reporting. According to information from Tendencias Digitales, 27 percent of internet access is dialled up by mobile phone in countries like Venezuela, and a large proportion of citizens use smart phones to report crimes or traffic conditions, via Twitter.

In fact, Latin America is the world's second region for users of social networks like Facebook and Twitter as a proportion of the population, after North America, according to SocialTimes, an information source on social media.

The July 2011 Web 2.0 Ranking produced by Tendencias Digitales named Chile, Brazil and Venezuela as the top three Latin American countries for social media use.

"We are more inclined to sharing and paying attention to what people are saying. For instance, Facebook penetration, measured as a percentage of the population, is 26 percent in Latin America compared to 20 percent worldwide. Performing the same calculation for Twitter, we find its penetration in Venezuela is eight percent, compared to three percent for Latin America and the rest of the world," said Méndez, quoting figures from the study.

Twitter accounts like @SINviolenciaMX (violence-free Mexico) foster the development of a user network where people can both post and receive information about crime zones or traffic jams.

However, Puyosa stressed that messages from smart phones or social networks cannot be regarded as "real" crime reports.

"Effective denunciation of a crime, with the aim of evoking a law enforcement response, must be made formally to the police. Victims may vent their feelings of frustration via Twitter or Facebook, but these are not effective channels for reporting crime," she said.


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