Midland Ontario’s police force has teamed up with other police forces around Ontario to create a mapping platform for communities around the province. While the map is pretty standard stuff – a Google map with icons related to the different crimes, the data agreement is what is really interesting.
The map was created through the Ontario Police Technology Information Cooperative (OPTIC), which is apparently the largest data-sharing cooperative in North America (pdf). The cooperative consists of 43 municipalities across Ontario. It is amazing that they are beginning to provide data to citizens through these platforms, let alone the fact that it’s a single platform.
Critique/Notes: The question I always have for these crime maps are, who uses them? There are many uses that can come out of these maps, but which ones are the most popular? In the case of a crime map, perhaps popularity is not important, but with this information (especially the date range options), people can see the extent to which crimes happen. Is this a quiet request from the police for people to analyze their data?
The idea of OPTIC is really interesting to me – the amount of cooperation between the municipalities to bring together a unified data sharing mechanism seems like a very difficult task. The extent of cooperation seems to come out from the map itself – the fact that they can show different municipalities using a common cartographic grammar is a huge step forward for being able to make meaningful comparisons between communities.
From a planning perspective, the amount of crime can give information about potential changes that need to occur in the urban environment. Looking at Timmins, if you choose ‘motor vehicle collisions’ you can see which intersections are the most dangerous. Algonquin Blvd and Birch St seems to be the centre of collisions in Timmins, perhaps because of the car garage and parking lot on Birch Street? Only Timmins residents would know.