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A FREE AND OPEN SOURCE GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM


APPROACH TO MAPPING CRIMES

Dan Jerome S. Barrera, MSCJ


Faculty, College of Criminal Justice Education
Negros Oriental State University-Main Campus
Dumaguete City, Philippines
danjerome.barrera@norsu.edu.ph
2015
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ABSTRACT

Innovations in policing, like problem-oriented policing and hot spots policing,

demand quantitative techniques to identify crime patterns across space. However, current

crime mapping practice is monopolized by the use of proprietary GIS. This situation is

unfortunate for police departments, especially in developing countries, that are ill-funded.

This paper introduces free alternatives to proprietary computerized crime mapping GIS

tools and information. By reviewing extant literature, mature free and open source

desktop GIS tools and volunteered geographic information, which could be used in

performing crime mapping routines, are identified. The viability of these programs for

crime mapping purposes was then demonstrated through the analysis of property crimes

(i.e. carnapping, robbery, and theft incidents) in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental,

Philippines (2010-2012). Considering the limited resources for crime prevention, the

availability of free-of-cost resources for crime mapping provides police departments the

opportunity to do more with less.

Keywords: Crime mapping, free and open source GIS, volunteered geographic

information.

Introduction

Crime mapping is fundamental in the deployment of the limited police and

community resources for crime prevention and control. The successes in integrating

crime mapping in policing, scientific efforts and advances in criminology, the advent of

low-cost computer, the availability of geographic information system (GIS) and related
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tools, and, of course, the accessibility of the internet, have helped diffuse computerized

crime mapping in most police departments in western countries, especially in the US

(Weisburd & Lum, 2005; Taylor et al., 2011). With this, several books, guides, and

manuals exist for crime mapping purposes (see e.g. Boba, 2001; Caplan, 2010; Eck et

al., 2005; Harries, 1999; Gorr, 2001).

However, the practice of crime mapping has been monopolized by proprietary GIS

software and tools. For instance, through its web site, the National Archive of Criminal

Justice Data in U.S offers crime mapping tutorial to criminal justice professionals and

educators (http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/NACJD/). The workbooks in the tutorial

were written by the authors using ArcView and MapInfo GIS (see Gorr, 2001 and Gorr &

Wells, 2001). The same approach of using ArcView GIS in his crime mapping guide was

done by Caplan (2010). Although they are excellent products, ArcView and MapInfo are

proprietary GIS; and the procurement of these programs would cost a police department

thousands of dollars for GIS alone. For instance, the first ever crime mapping system in

the Philippines that was set up at the Muntinlupa City Police Office amounted to 7.5 million

pesos (Punay, 2004). This is unfortunate because most police departments in developing

countries have limited financial resources.

Recent research finds that police departments do not necessarily need expensive

crime mapping systems to accomplish most crime mapping routines, and these

departments demand for easy to use crime mapping GIS software and tools (Perry et al.,

2013; Roth et al., 2013). In this article, it is argued that free and open source (FOS) GIS

tools and volunteered geographic information (VGI) can fulfill this need. Some experts in

GIS and in crime mapping hinted on the potential utility of FOS GIS and VGI (e.g. Anselin,
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2010; Ratcliffe, 2010; Goodchild, 2007; Caplan, 2010). To date, however, there is no

available work that describes what FOS GIS and VGI resources that could be used in

crime mapping and how these tools could be integrated for such purpose.

This paper presents an applied research with demonstration of its application.

Potential FOS desktop GIS, VGI, and related tools that could be utilized in crime mapping

will be explicated. In addition, the utility of these tools will be demonstrated in a case study

of carnapping, robbery, and theft offenses in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental,

Philippines. With this, ill-funded police departments are given an option to do more with

less in crime mapping and crime analysis. The paper proceeds by explicating: (a) crime

analysis, especially crime mapping; (b) conventional proprietary GIS tools and their free

open source alternatives; and finally (c) the utility of these alternative tools will be

demonstrated in the analysis of robbery and theft offenses in the city of Dumaguete.

Crime Mapping in Crime Analysis

Crime analysis has gained current surge of interests from researchers and

practitioners. Its utility in testing and informing theory and practice is greatly recognized

in the field of environmental criminology (Wortley & Mazerolle, 2008). Crime analysis,

however, is not a new invention (Santos, 2013). Conceivably, it is as old as the ability of

humans to contemplate and analyze series of events and find patterns, especially

patterns of crime events. Crime analysis is the systematic study of crime and disorder

problems as well as other police-related issuesincluding socio-demographic, spatial,

and temporal factorsto assist the police in criminal apprehension, crime and disorder

reduction, crime prevention, and evaluation (Santos, 2013:2). Santos (2013) provides six
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distinct but complementary types of crime analysis: intelligence analysis, criminal

investigative analysis, tactical crime analysis, strategic crime analysis, operations

analysis, and administrative crime analysis. All of these types can be aided with crime

mapping (see Santos, 2013: 63 for some examples).

Crime mapping is used by researchers and practitioners to visualize crime patterns

in space and time (Harries, 1999; Eck et al., 2005; Anselin et al., 2008). Santos (2013:5)

defines crime mapping as the process of using a geographic information system to

conduct spatial analysis of crime and disorder problems as well as other police-related

issues. Perhaps, crime mapping is of its greatest utility in hot spots analysis (Anselin et

al., 2008). Crime hot spots are places that have above average crime concentration in a

particular jurisdiction (Eck, 2005). The concept of crime hot spots gained much attention

after Sherman et al. (1989) discovered that half of the calls for predatory crime to the

police came from only 3 percent of all addresses and intersections in Minneapolis,

Minnesota, USA. Hot spot analysis was previously done through manual pin mapping;

however, with its inherent tedious nature, the method was replaced by computerized

methods using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and related tools (Anselin et al.,

2008; Harries, 1999; Weisburd & Lum, 2005).

The identification of crime patterns informs both theory and practice. For

researchers, crime patterns may support or modify existing crime theories like routine

activity approach, rational choice perspective, and the crime pattern theory (Wortley &

Mazerolle, 2008). In the same way, identification of crime patterns is fundamental to

modern policing strategies. For example, there is now a growing practice of adopting

problem-oriented policing and hot spot policing approaches towards crime prevention.
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These approaches are place-based, focused, and found to be effective by previous

studies (see Weisburd & Eck, 2004 for a review). What is fundamental to these

approaches is crime analysis, especially crime mapping to identify places that should

receive higher dosage of crime prevention resources.

Geographical Information System and Related Tools

The adoption of computerized mapping by US law enforcement departments

continues to increase and follows a diffusion process (Weisburd & Lum, 2005). A recent

survey in the US reveals that most law enforcement agencies employs a crime analyst

and use crime analysis products such as crime maps to aid police operations (Taylor et

al., 2011). The survey also uncovers the top 3 barriers to the implementation of crime

analysis within police departments, namely: not enough personnel, not enough funding,

and lack of adequate hard/software tools. Computerized crime mapping requires several

tools to perform (Higgins, 2003). Fundamental to creating maps are hardware and

software tools (e.g. Desktop GIS).

The work horse of crime mapping is the desktop GIS. A desktop GIS is a

mapping software that is installed onto and runs on a personal computer and allows users

to display, query, update, and analyze data about geographic locations and the

information linked to those locations (ESRI, 2014). A desktop GIS can either be

proprietary or free and open source. The most commonly used desktop GIS for crime

mapping in western countries are proprietary GIS such as MapInfo, ArcView, and

ArcInfo (Mamalian and La Vigne et al., 1999).


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Crime mapping, however, often goes beyond mapping (Anselin et al., 2008). Mere

mapping volumes of crime may fail to identify crime patterns. Often, a crime analyst needs

to conduct spatial statistical analysis for a variety of reasons such as, but not limited to:

(1) to determine whether crimes points or crime aggregated to areal units are randomly

distributed or not, (2) to smooth crime concentrations in order to highlight the existing

patterns not otherwise visible, and (3) to predict the location of the next attack by an

offender (see Anselin et al., 2000). Most desktop GIS, however, lack spatial statistics

commonly used in crime analysis. Thus, an analyst needs other programs that anallyze

crime points or aggregated crimes to polygons. These programs include CrimeStat

(Levine, 2006), GeoDa (Anselin et al., 2006), and Near Repeat Calculator (Ratcliffe,

2008). Fortunately, these programs are easy-to-use, free, and downloadable from the

web.

Free and Open Source GIS and Volunteered Geographic Information

Aside from their cost, proprietary programs are complex with steep learning

curves (Ratcliffe, 2009). Thus, practitioners demand for alternative crime mapping tools

that overcome these limitations (Roth et al., 2013). In addition, most predictive policing

products can be produced using less expensive/free and readily available programs

(Perry et al., 2013). In this subsection, free and open source (FOS) GIS and volunteered

geographic information will be explored.

The FOS movement might be mistaken for being a result of the desire to have free-

of-cost GIS (Steiniger & Hunter, 2013). This movement, actually, resulted from discontent

towards restrictions in accessing source codes and modifying programs in the 1960s and
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1970s. Thus, some programmers chose to develop programs that anybody could use and

modify for free (Steiniger & Hay, 2009). The movement was largely of the desire for

freedom (Steiniger & Hunter, 2013). The term free and open source implies that a GIS

is free-of-cost; and its source code is open for modification to users.

There are numerous FOS desktop GIS that are available to researchers and

practitioners (Steiniger & Hay, 2009). These programs include mature GIS and those that

are still on an early development stage. The reviews of Steiniger & Bocher (2009) and

Steiniger & Hay (2009) describe eight mature FOS desktop GIS: (1) GRASS GIS, (2)

QGIS, (3) ILWIS, (4) uDig, (5) SAGA, (6) OpenJUMP, (7) MapWindow GIS, and (8)

gvSIG. These FOS GIS possess functionalities comparable to commercial ones, software

support, and international user and developer communities. Perhaps the most popular

FOS GIS is the GRASS GIS because of its decades-old history. However, GRASS has a

complex user interface; and thus, often demands an experienced user level. In this paper,

the QGIS desktop GIS is preferred for crime mapping purposes not only because of its

friendly, easy to use interface, but also because it outperforms other FOS GIS in terms of

several important criteria.

Chen et al. (2010) assessed and tested over 30 FOS desktop GIS in choosing

FOS GIS suited for water resources management in developing countries. They used

three levels of assessment: (1) preliminary selection based on functionalities, complexity,

maturity, cross-platform requirements, and popularity; (2) secondary selection by

weighting and ranking method using the criteria of internet connection and security,

operation system, programming language, complexity, data format and database,

maturity, installation and test running, and functionalities; and (3) data processing speed
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and advanced functionalities for water resources management. The results of these tests

revealed that QGIS outperformed other FOS GIS in almost all criteria.

Limitations of FOS Desktop GIS

There are at least two major challenges when using FOS desktop GIS for crime

mapping. FOS GIS lacks spatial data analysis routines (Anselin, 2012). To fill this void,

QGIS can be used in conjunction with some easy-to-use, free-of-cost spatial statistics

programs such as CrimeStat, GeoDa, and Near Repeat Calculator. CrimeStat is a

powerful spatial statistics software designed specifically to perform routines aimed to

analyze crime events (Levine, 2006). Unlike CrimeStat that needs a GIS to visualize the

results, GeoDa is a stand-alone program that analyzes and visualizes the results (Anselin

et al., 2006). Finally, the Near Repeat Calculator can recognize patterns of near repeat

victimization across space and time (Ratcliffe, 2008).

FOS GIS lacks base data sets like basemaps and road networks (Ratcliffe, 2009).

This challenge, however, can be overcome through the use of volunteered geographic

information created and monitored by volunteers on the web (Goodchild, 2007). Potential

applications include OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/), Google Maps

(https://maps.google.com/), and GADM Database (http://www.gadm.org/).

OpenStreetMap provides road networks that could be used as an overlay on a map.

Google Maps and GADM can be used as base maps. In addition, there are many websites

that utilize the map layers of OpenStretMap, Google Maps, and other web mapping

applications to perform geocoding; for example, GPS Visualizer

(www.gpsvisualizer.com/) and Find Latitude and Longitude

(http://www.findlatitudeandlongitude.com/). Geocoding crimes is the process of


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converting crime locations, often represented as street addresses, into latitude and

longitude coordinates (Anselin et al., 2008; Police Foundation, 2000). In this paper, the

utility of the geocoding services of Find Latitude and Longitude, which uses Google Map

as reference layer, was explored.

An Application of FOS GIS and VGI Resources to Crime Mapping

Preparing crime mapping tools

As explicated earlier, computerized crime mapping requires hardware and

software tools (see Higgins, 2003 for the mandatory and optional requirements). One

needs to have at least a laptop or a personal computer in order to perform computerized

crime mapping. If these are readily available in the police office, then it is not a problem.

Software requirements can be acquired free-of-cost. LibreOffice, an excellent free version

of the Microsoft Office applications (for e.g. Microsoft Excel, Word, Access), is also

available and downloadable from the web (www.libreoffice.org/). However, one can use

Microsoft Office if it is readily available in the office. In this paper, LibreOffice applications

such as Writer Document and Calc Spreadsheet were used. Of course, the work horse

of crime mapping (i.e., the desktop GIS) is fundamental to the current purpose. The recent

version of the QGIS, as of this writing, Valmiera (see Figure 1), is free and downloadable

from its website (www.qgis.org/). All maps created for this paper were produced using

QGIS. For spatial analysis, download Crimestat III from

http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/CrimeStat/ and GeoDa from

https://geodacenter.asu.edu/software/downloads. In this paper, CrimeStat was used to

analyze the crime points. The installations of these programs are relatively easy; just
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follow the instructions given during the installation process. It should be noted, however,

that only point analysis is demonstrated in this paper.

Figure 1. Graphical user interface of QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera.

Preparing the crime data

Most police departments collect information about the crime event. These

information include the date, time, address where the crime was perpetrated, and other

related information. Usually, these information are encoded already in a data table like

the one shown in Table 1. Table 1 presents a sample format of the database of some of

the robbery (N=311), theft (N=486), and carnapping (N=125) incidents that were reported

to the police in Dumaguete City from 2010 to 2012. In the table, only a sample of cases

is shown as an illustration; however, all observations were used to produce the crime
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mapping products shown later in this section. If the data are not yet encoded then one

may encode the data in this format using Calc or Excel.

Table 1. Sample database format for computerized crime mapping.

ID Year Month Day Day2 Hour Location Crime


00001 2010 Jan 1 Fri 7:45 Flores Ave., Dumaguete City Theft
00002 2010 Feb 13 Sat 8:15 Miciano Rd., Dumaguete City Robbery
00003 2010 Jul 28 Fri 7:45 Dr. V. Locsin St., Dumaguete City Carnapping
00004 2011 Feb 17 Thu 3:00 Colon Extension, Dumaguete City Theft
00005 2011 Apr 13 Wed 22:30 Quezon Park, Dumaguete City Carnapping
00006 2011 May 4 Wed 6:30 San Jose Extension, Dumaguete City Carnapping
00007 2012 Jan 2 Mon 8:45 Cathedral Church, Dumaguete City Robbery
00008 2012 Oct 27 Sat 13:00 Perdices St., Dumaguete City Theft
00009 2012 Nov 6 Sat 2:00 Hibbard Ave., Dumaguete City Theft
00010 2012 Dec 11 Sun 14:40 Teves St., Dumaguete City Theft

The next step of the preparation would be to geocode the crime locations into

geographic coordinates longitude (X) and latitude (Y). These coordinates were used by

QGIS to plot individual crime points on the map. The current data were geocoded using

the website of Find Latitude and Longitude. The website uses Google Maps with VGI

such as place (country, province, city/municipality), street, and building names to geocode

addresses. Using the Batch Geocode command, it took 1.865 seconds to geocode the

10 addresses in Table 1. The resulting database with coordinates are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Crime data table with geocoded coordinates (latitude and longitude).

ID Year Month Day1 Day Hour Location Latitude Longitude Crime


00001 2010 Jan 1 Fri 7:45 Flores Ave., Dumaguete City 9.316222 123.311561 Theft
00002 2010 Feb 13 Sat 8:15 Miciano Rd., Dumaguete City 9.306021 123.300931 Robbery
00003 2010 Jul 28 Fri 7:45 Dr. V. Locsin St., Dumaguete City 9.306738 123.302782 Carnapping
00004 2011 Feb 17 Thu 3:00 Colon Extension, Dumaguete City 9.305142 123.300741 Theft
00005 2011 Apr 13 Wed 22:30 Quezon Park, Dumaguete City 9.305889 123.3081 Carnapping
00006 2011 May 4 Wed 6:30 San Jose Extension, Dumaguete 9.313096 123.294858 Carnapping
00007 2012 Jan 2 Mon 8:45 Cathedral Church, Dumaguete City 9.30684 123.305447 Robbery
00008 2012 Oct 27 Sat 13:00 Perdices St., Dumaguete City 9.306428 123.307671 Theft
00009 2012 Nov 6 Sat 2:00 Hibbard Ave., Dumaguete City 9.316837 123.307224 Theft
00010 2012 Dec 11 Sun 14:40 Teves St., Dumaguete City 9.309864 123.303544 Theft
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Preparing the base map data

Base map data such as administrative boundaries and street networks are needed

in mapping crimes. The GADM website is an excellent source of high resolution maps of

administrative boundaries. However, for ease of download the areal map of Dumaguete

City was downloaded from the Philippine GIS Data Clearinghouse (PhilGIS;

http://philgis.org/). PhilGIS is a non-profit, non-governmental repository of free GIS data

for the Philippines. Its data include GIS maps of administrative boundaries of cities up to

the Barangay level (the lowest level of administrative division in the country). Most of

these maps were retrieved by PhilGIS volunteers from GADM. Street networks of the city

were obtained from the OpenStreetMap. However, one can also use the Google Map

Street Layer as the base layer. This can be accessed through the use of the OpenLayers

plug-in, which can be installed in QGIS. Figure 2 shows the base map of Dumaguete City.

The city is the capital of the Province of Negros Oriental in central Philippines. Most of

the provincial government offices, large universities and schools, and businesses are

located in the city, specifically in or near the central business district (CBD).
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Figure 2. Basemap of Dumaguete City.

Crime mapping exercise

Crime mapping proceeds with several steps (Eck et al., 2005). First, there is a

need to have a feel of the spatial distribution of crimes through some global statistics such

as the mean center and standard deviation ellipse (SDE) statistics. These statistics are

equivalent to the non-spatial descriptive statistics such as the mean and standard

deviation. In this paper, spatial statistics were performed using the CrimeStat 3.3

program (see Levine, 2010). Figure 3 shows the mean center and the SDE of carnapping,

robbery, and theft incidents in Dumaguete City, 2010-2012. The dot points on the maps

in Figure 3 represent the mean centers, while the ellipses represent the standard

deviation of all points from the mean center. The interpretation of these statistics is similar

to that of the non-spatial mean and standard deviation. The mean center is located by

finding the centermost crime point on the map by considering all other points. On the
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other hand, the SDE represents one standard deviation of all crime points from the mean

center of all crimes.

Figure 3. Spatial description of carnapping, robbery, and theft incidents in Dumaguete


City, 2010-2012.

One can compare the spatial description of different crimes by creating a mash-up

of, say, all mean centers or all SDEs. Figure 4 presents the superimposition of the mean

centers and SDEs of the three property crime types. The mean centers reveal that

robbery and theft incidents tend to have similar distribution, while carnapping incidents

are more concentrated to the northeast of the city. In addition, carnapping incidents are

more clustered than the other two crime types.


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Figure 4. Mash-up of the mean centers and standard deviation ellipses of carnapping
(red), robbery (yellow), and theft (purple) incidents in Dumaguete City, 2010-2012.
.

The SDEs provide us the idea that these crimes are somewhat clustered in space,

and that the most clustered among the three types are carnapping incidents. To see if

these patterns are non-random beyond chance or not, an analyst can use the nearest

neighbor index (NNI) or the Ripleys K routines in CrimeStat. In this paper, the NNI was

used. The results from the NNI routines are presented in Figure 5 which was created

using Excel. An NNI less than one denotes clustering, while more than one signals

random distribution of points across space. As seen, the three crime types are clustered

even up to the 100th nearest neighbor. The NNIs (1st nearest neighbor only) are significant

at the 0.0001 level. This means that crime hot spots exist in the current data, thereby

warranting hot spot mapping.


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1.2

1
Nearest Neighbor Index

0.8

0.6 Carnapping NNI

Robbery
0.4 Theft

0.2

0
1 7 13 19 25 31 37 43 49 55 61 67 73 79 85 91 97
Order of Nearest Neighbor Index

Figure 5. K-order nearest neighbor indices of carnapping, robbery, and theft incidents in
Dumaguete City, 2010-2012. NNIs (1st nearest neighbor only) are all significant at the
0.0001 level.

There are many techniques in visualizing crime hot spots such as the point

mapping, areal mapping, STAC, and the kernel density estimation (KDE; Eck et al., 2005).

In their study, Chainey et al. (2008) found that KDE hot spot mapping outperformed other

hot spot techniques in terms of predicting future locations of crime occurrences. Thus,

KDE routine in CrimeStat was used in the current analysis in visualizing crime hot spots.

In producing KDE maps, an analyst defines the bandwidth arbitrarily. To reduce

arbitrariness, the suggestion of Williamson et al. (1999) and Chainey (2005) to use K-

Orders of Nearest Neighbor Index in defining the bandwidth of smoothing crime points

was followed. Figure 6 presents the KDE maps of carnapping, robbery, and theft incidents

in the city.
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Figure 6. Hot spot maps of carnapping, robbery, and theft incidents in Dumaguete City,
2010-2012. Incident points = 125 (Carnapping), 308 (Robbery), and 477 (Theft);
Measurement type = Direct; Type of calculation = Absolute densities; Bandwidth = K-
Order of 5 (286m) for carnapping, K-Order of 8 (254m) for robbery, and K-Order of 10
(255m) for theft; Classification scheme = Natural breaks (Jenks).

As seen from Figure 6, the three crime types have different hot spot distributions.

Hot spots of carnapping incidents tend to concentrate within and outside the central

business district (CBD), but still within the immediate proximity of the CBD. In contrast,

robbery hot spots are absent from the CBD; instead, they are scattered outside to the

north, west, and southwest of the CBD. Finally, most theft incidents cluster within the

CBD. These patterns imply that property crimes are non-randomly distributed as

evidenced by the small number of hot spots compared to cold spots in the city. It would,

then, be fair to speculate that these crimes may be driven by the ample opportunity

provided by the cluster of likely targets within the city (see Felson & Clarke, 1998; Wortley

& Mazerolle, 2008 for the opportunity perspective on crime occurrences).


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Overall, this case study successfully demonstrates that the crime mapping

approach introduced in this paper is feasible. One can produce maps using easy-to-use

and free-of-cost tools.

Limitations of the Approach

However, despite the immense potential of the approach introduced in this paper,

several issues remain to be addressed. There is no guarantee that this technological

approach alone can produce beneficial effects to crime prevention and control. As what

Kim and de Guzman (2012) asserted, human factor (i.e. researchers and analysts) still

plays a major role in crime mapping and crime analysis. They argued that the utility of

crime maps largely depends on whether or not the analyst have considered several

factors before creating maps using GIS. These factors include: (1) what hot spot analysis

method to use; (2) when to say a place a hot spot; (3) how large a hot spot is; and, (4)

how hot spots vary across time. Thus, the methods explicated in this paper requires an

analyst who has a good grasp of the limitations of GIS mapping and of the ways to

overcome these limitations.

There is no guarantee that this approach would be adopted by all police

departments. Chamard (2006) posits that those small departments in New Jersey, USA

that have no prior computerized crime mapping experience tend to discontinue their use

of computerized crime mapping. Reasons include the unavailability of data, personnel,

and other resources. In terms of the availability of the data, since this approach depends

on the availability of volunteered geographic information (VGI), it may work in some

jurisdictions but not in others. As observed, municipalities in the Philippines that are
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composed mostly of rural barangays have incomplete digital road networks and other

VGI. These information are used for computerized geocoding of crimes. Thus, police

departments in these jurisdictions may resort to manual geocoding, which is more tedious

and time consuming. However, the small number of crimes in these jurisdictions may

offset these issues, but the actual response of police departments to these concern is yet

to be seen.

One final issue that should be pointed out is the concern about the quality of VGI

resources used as base layers (e.g. OpenStreetMap road layer) for the crime maps and

as reference layer in geocoding crime incidents. Volunteered geographic information are

produced and monitored by millions of volunteers (Goodchild, 2007). Because of this,

some issues related to the quality of VGI exist (Flanagin & Metzger, 2008). These issues

include the credibility of the volunteers, who are mostly inexperienced and not educated

in the science of geography, and the quality of data which come from millions of

volunteers who may have submitted disparate data, thereby creating problems in arriving

an agreement on what data are exact. Thus, it is important to assure the quality of these

resources (Goodchild & Li, 2012). In terms of quality, however, VGI do have advantages

over authoritative data collected by governments and private corporations. As Goodchild

and Li (2012:112) argue, authoritative data are increasingly out of date . . . and were

acquired using older technologies that were less accurate than those available to the

general public today . . . Thus in many circumstances it is easy to show that VGI is of

better quality than the best available authoritative data.


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Although this free and open source geographical information system approach to

mapping crimes offers some promises, the fulfillment of these promises are yet to be seen

until it is tried by police departments.

Conclusion

In this paper, it is argued that the complex and commercial nature of proprietary

GIS and related tools seem to hamper the diffusion of computerized crime mapping to ill-

budgeted police departments, especially in developing countries. This problem, however,

can be solved through the use of powerful, free and open source GIS (e.g. QGIS). This

GIS is capable of handling, visualizing, and editing spatial crime data. Moreover, spatial

statistics routines of crime data were easily performed, in conjunction with QGIS, through

the use of available free spatial statistics software like CrimeStat. The viability of using

FOS desktop GIS and related tools was successfully demonstrated through the analysis

of carnapping, robbery, and theft incidents in Dumaguete City.

It is, therefore recommended that police departments in the Philippines invest in

the adoption of the approach explicated in this paper. A good start would be conducting

GIS crime mapping training with non-uniformed personnel in the Philippine National

Police using the said approach. If the personnel are already capable, then the purchase

of needed hardware may follow. With the use of free-of-cost programs, police

departments would be enabled to do more with less.


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Acknowledgment

The helpful comments of the two anonymous reviewers of this article are

acknowledged. Likewise, the author wishes to acknowledge the support of the Negros

Oriental State University, his officemates, and students.

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