Lileks: New crime maps are a bit too specific
- Article by: JAMES LILEKS
- Star Tribune
- February 8, 2014 - 4:40 PM
The Minneapolis Police Department has unveiled a new interactive crime map called RAIDS, or Really Awesome Interactive Detail, Seriously. OK, no, but it might as well be. The maps show where and when the crimes occurred, so the first thing you do is find your neighborhood.
Whoa: lots. It’s mostly burglaries, but the red icon of a clenched hand probably doesn’t mean someone was playing rock-paper-fist, so there’s whuppings as well. You feel less safe; you go to the window to look for suspicious people. You consider moving. Then you adjust the date parameters so it’s this week instead of this year, and whew. Crime all gone! Feeling better now. Let’s refinance.
The amount of data is extraordinary; charts and graphs show, for example, that Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday have the lowest incidences of arson, so if you’re planning anything, be aware you’ll stick out.
One filtering option is rather peculiar: You can select for Canadian education, Canadian languages, Canadian population change and Canadian visible minorities. There does not appear to be a way to alter the maps to show Canadian invisible minorities, but —
Hold on, Canadian? Is this some mistake in the site that reveals a heretofore unknown peril? Unbeknown to us, all crime is from Canadians? Oh, they look nice and polite, but turn your back and, whoosh, the flatscreen’s in a van bound for Winnipeg.
Another of the categories you can filter: “Crime: murder (general).”
Murder seems to be rather specific.
It’s an interesting tool, but lacks the just-the-facts-ma’am pleasures of a good crime blotter. You know: “Police were called to investigate a duck on the road. On investigation it turned out to be a chunk of snow dislodged from a wheel well. No arrests were made.” That’s the real stuff of life.
Suggestion: Do a happy version. Show the places where people did nice things — waved a motorist through instead of cutting them off, holding the door open for someone and timing it so they didn’t feel like they had to run to get there.
It wouldn’t be as popular as the mayhem map — unless they called it Charity Really In Minneapolis Exists. The name might be odd but the acronym will bring ’em in.
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