Tech-Friendly: Visit crimemapping.com to see maps of local crimes

April 9, 2014

Paul Gorski

Paul Gorski

By Paul Gorski

I was reading commentary about crime and economic development, and the commentators did not seem to realize how close to home some crimes were to them. Crimemapping.com is an interactive website where you may view a map of crimes reported in Rockford and Winnebago County. The inclusion of crime data from Rockford and Winnebago County at Crimemapping.com has been reported previously in The Rock River Times, but I thought it would be useful to remind our readers of the Crimemapping.com service.

As reported in “Crimemapping.com — a new city website” from the Nov. 10-16, 2010, issue:

The Rockford Police Department is also now participating with Crimemapping.com, a web-based application that maps crime data in the City of Rockford and many other cities throughout North America. …

… For access, go to the City of Rockford website rockfordil.gov, click on Public Safety, Police and finally the Crimemapping.com logo. No user name or password is necessary.

Once you have logged in to the application and selected Rockford Police, IL, the default screen will show a map centered on our downtown, showing the offenses for the last seven days. There are several tabs at the top of the map that allow you to customize your search. You may also type an exact address to see offenses within a radius around that address.

As this is a nationwide application, type the full address including city and state (i.e., 420 W. State St., Rockford, IL). ZIP code is not necessary.

Clicking any symbol in the map will produce a pop-up box that contains basic information about the offense. A black symbol means there are multiple offenses at that location, as it is possible for multiple offenses to occur in a single incident; clicking on the ‘-’ will display a pop-up box that allows you to scroll all of the offenses.

Also included in the pop-up box is a link called ‘Rockford Police Links.’ Clicking that will expand the list to show three links. The first is a link to the Rockford Police website, the second is detailed information about the data contained in this site, and the third is a link to an explanation of Nixle and how individuals may sign up for Nixle alerts.

Crimemapping.com will also allow users to sign up for crime alerts. Similar to Nixle alerts, these will be specific to a location and will allow the user to customize when they will receive an alert based on a radius around the location and the specific crimes they select. Users can create e-mail alerts for multiple locations.”

As reported in “Sheriff’s department goes live at Crimemapping.com” from the July 25-31, 2012, issue:

In an effort to help reduce crime and further strengthen local community-oriented policing efforts, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department recently went live at CrimeMapping.com.

CrimeMapping.com is a nationwide public mapping service that allows residents to analyze interactive maps of recent crime activity. Visitors to the site can generate reports, search by location and filter for different time periods as well as crime types.

Keeping the public well informed has been proven effective as a crime-fighting strategy and the Sheriff’s Office is proactively sharing information within Winnebago County as well as the Village of Machesney Park, which the county polices by contract.

Crime Alerts are one of the most popular features at CrimeMapping.com. Residents can register online to receive free updates via e-mail whenever new crime activity occurs in their area. Users choose the distance as well as crimes they wish to stay informed about.

A single user can register multiple times to learn about activity occurring near their residence, place of business or even their child’s school of attendance. The information posted is always current, as data is uploaded to the system every 24 hours.

The incident records information used is thoroughly tested and represents some of the highest levels of integrity and accuracy available for any public crime-mapping site.”

Sharing crime data with Crimemapping.com is voluntary, so I give credit to the Rockford Police Department and the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office for participating in the program.

Yes, crime is a problem, but at least our law enforcement leaders are not hiding the reported crimes. Rather, our local law enforcement agencies are offering a tool to local residents that will keep us better informed of reported crimes.

Mind you, these are reported crimes, not convictions.

Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple Iie.

Posted April 9, 2014

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