“Crime Map II: Crime Harder”: A Custom App for the Rutgers-New Brunswick Community | by Muckgers

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We are excited to unveil our new Crime Map App, a dynamic mobile web page where you can set multiple options to see where and what crimes have taken place around Rutgers-New Brunswick campuses.

Crime data is published in accordance with the Cléry Law, a federal law that requires all of this information to be public knowledge. It was named after Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who in 1986 was brutally raped and murdered by a classmate. Her parents then devoted the rest of their lives to making college campuses safer places for students.

Before, we used lotgeo to help us trace criminal incidents, but quickly ran into problems (you can read more about these maps here). First, we were limited to around 200 map points per map, which was not optimal for the amount of data we were working with. In order to get more of them (and remove the ads), we’ll need to upgrade to their expensive subscription. Second, it really only worked on laptops and desktops which was a huge limitation. And third, due to data limitations, we were forced to create individual maps per month, which wasn’t a good thing if we wanted to get a general picture of a particular area over time. We chose to use a combination of Google Merge tables, a merger API key, and a project developped by Code for America. We also did a bit of custom coding.

We will update the database every 2-4 weeks using the Rutgers University Police Department crime log data, which is then automatically displayed on the map.

There are many unique options you can choose from to filter the data. First, the app asks you for your current location. If you are near or around New Brunswick you will get a blue marker on the map. You can then access the search functions and limit the scope of incidents to those that have occurred within a radius around where you are now. You can also filter by most common incident types, a rolling incident period (1 month – default / 2 months / 3 months / 6 months) and the disposition of cases.

Although the app was designed for mobile platforms, it works great on laptops and desktops.

The RUPD is releasing the data on a day-to-day basis, so if you see the number of markers on the map clearing up, it may be closer to when we need to collect it all again. It takes time, so please be indulgent with us (you can choose to see data from the previous two months instead). If you encounter any errors or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Your feedback will help us continue to improve this resource for the communities of Rutgers and New Brunswick.


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