Washington D.C. Updates Crime Map


Washington D.C. has launched a new service called “DC Crime Cards” which is an update to its crime mapping tool.

The tool provides a citywide heat map that reflects recent crime data. Crime Cards will replace the city’s existing crime mapping tool that was developed in 2006. The tool embraces some recent updates to GIS functionality including enhanced mobile capability and improved search. The current mapping tool doesn’t work on mobile phones.

Crime Cards got its start during a public safety hackathon last year and has been in development through a joint effort with law enforcement and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

Several cities offer crime maps with varying degrees of functionality. DC’s updated tool allows users to enter more conversational search prompts like “I want to explore over the past 2 years citywide on a heat map.” Adding a natural language search feature puts DC’s map ahead of many other municipal maps which allow users to filter data using drop-down menus or other pre-set prompts.

As CivSource recently reported, as GIS technology matures, natural language search and the integration of unstructured data points like those from social media is likely to become more common. This reality was the impetus behind Esri’s recent acquisition of ClearTerra, a software company that integrates unstructured data and maps.

In addition to letting users create custom visualizations, DC’s new mapping tool also pre-populates some historical trend information such as whether crime has increased or decreased in a given area. Users can also find contact information for law enforcement officials in their neighborhoods.