That is exactly the kind of information a government agency should share with the public. Unfortunately, they published it in the dreadful PDF format. I like plain text myself. It’s easier to do things like this:
That led to more than a year of playing with spreadsheets and mapping tools. In the process I got to know a lot more about the Lakeland Police Department and the Ledger. It wasn’t long before both organizations would reprint my map each week. Eventually, LPD found a staff member and I was able to show him my process so LPD could create the same kind of map. That helped LPD be able to turn around maps faster.
I had planned to stop making the maps when LPD got into a grove. Then I decided to finish the year. It would be a full 52 weeks of data I could play with. I could also keep suppling the Ledger with a map until they put the resources into making maps in-house. They’re finally doing so with a map that works in the paper and online. It isn’t interactive though. In other words, you can’t turn off select crimes to make the map easier to read.
I wanted people to be able to choose to see crime by day, time, or type. I also wanted it to be easy to see crime mapped over more than a week. The closest was an interactive map that actually resembled the maps at SpotCrime. I decided it was a waste of resources to create something SpotCrime could do easier with better software and hardware.
Then I realized I had left out an important step.
Lakeland Local readers are computer savvy. You’re using twitter, email, feed readers and many other tools to get Lakeland news. Before I took one step I should have asked you to let me know what you’d like to see.
So, in comments or by emailing me at crimemaps [at] lakelandlocal.com please give me any suggestions you have. If you’ve seen a crime map you love, send me the link.
I’m not sure I’ll have the resources to make what you suggest, but I’ll make an effort.
In the meantime, LPD still sends me the data each week. I’ll keep it handy to utilize for history for any new map. I’ll also make sure to link to the LPD map each week as it is posted.