The Case of the Moving Icons

A few weeks ago I looked at  the Crimestat map for the North Point Douglas community, specifically the icons representing homicides.

The next day I looked at them again and although going strictly from memory, it appeared they had moved.

That caused me to “save” a few images over a period of days just to track whether or not the position of the icons was indeed altered from one day to the next.  It turned out that the problem was Crimestat’s and not mine.

The following maps, saved on different dates, are for the North Point Douglas community.  They clearly show that the cluster of 6 homicides are not stationary.  As you will note, the icons change location from day-to-day.

Map. 1  (November 28 2011)

Map 2  (December 1st. 2011)

Map 3  (December 3rd. 2011)

This caused me to click on the Contact Us button on the Crimestat Website.  I sent them the following message on November 27th:  “I notice that the icons for the cluster of homicides in North Point Douglas change positions from day-to-day.  Why would that be?”   Having received no reply I sent a reminder on December 1st,  still no reply.

I’m assuming the City does not know the answer or surely they would have responded by now or perhaps it is of no consequence to them.  The fact is, though, the icons, like the victims they represent, should not be moving to the degree they are (i.e. almost into another community) because, otherwise, the map is not an accurate representation.

Is there anyone out there who has expertise with geospatial analysis software that could explain what is happening here?  Perhaps we can send a few hints on to the City to assist them in rectifying this problem.

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5 comments on “The Case of the Moving Icons

  1. Brian Kelcey says:

    Perhaps the display is randomized somehow?

  2. Cliff says:

    Interesting. Looks like there were a couple of “resurrections” between November 28th and December 1 as well (homicide icon count down from 8 to 6). More seriously though it is obvious that the search parameters used in generating these December 1 and 2 maps must have been different than those used for the November 28th example. My educated guess is that this is simply the graphics rendering algorithms using “best a efforts” to fit icons on a map at scale. Kelcey is essentially correct.

  3. Tom Lillyman says:

    The only reasons for this would be city employees who don’t care, system issues with city employees who don’t care or can’t fix it and or a wee bit of a conspiracy by the authorities. Since truth or honesty are no longer options, not even considered or allowed at any government level, this leaves the no response approach. What a shock and good luck in getting any real answers to this findings!!!

  4. One excution style murder occurred on Barber Street, the other five murders were the result of one alleged arson at one house on Austin Street. Possibly trying to fit 5 icons in one tiny space alloted for one house is too difficult so they keep moving them around.

    So far we have had no reports of the dead or ghosts moving around in NPD.

    The Point Powerline.

  5. Menno Zacharias says:

    On December 9th. 2011 I received the following response from the City of Winnipeg:

    “Thank-you for your interest in CrimeStat.

    Please be advised, when looking up crime occurrences; please keep in mind the following information which can be found in the “Conditions of Use & Disclaimer” section of our website:

    “THE CRIME TYPE ICONS ARE RELATED TO AN ADDRESS, BUT FOR PRIVACY CONCERNS THE ICONS HAVE BEEN RANDOMIZED FOR DISPLAY PURPOSES. THE DISPLAYED ICONS ARE NOT THE ACTUAL LOCATION WHERE THE CRIME OCCURRED. ALL DATA VISUALIZATIONS ON MAPS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED APPROXIMATE AND ATTEMPTS TO DERIVE SPECIFIC ADDRESSES ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED. ”

    Further to the above, from day to day the crime icons are re-randomized on the maps to ensure the public will not decode the pattern used, therefore ensuring occurrence addresses remain confidential.

    Regards.”

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