Hamilton Police Launch Online Crime Mapping of Selected Crime Types

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The Hamilton Police Service is providing crime data mapping for the public using BAIR Analytics online mapping service RAIDS.

HPS’ implementation of crime mapping is response to public requests following Halton Police’s online crime mapping launch in early 2013.

City Councillor Jason Farr moved a motion at City Council asking the Hamilton Police Services Board to implement crime mapping.

The hope is that online crime mapping will increase public tips and awareness of crime.

Crime Mapping Incident Types

Clipboard06The Hamilton Police Service is providing RAIDS with Break-and-Enter, Robbery, Homicide, Theft from Vehicle, Theft of Vehicle crime data for the past 60 days.

Other crime types, including assaults, mental health, sexual assault, mischief under $5000, mischief over $5000, arson, vandalism, graffiti are not included to protect privacy of victims.

RAIDS takes this data and maps it on their service.

Users can view crime at the neighbourhood level, view the data as a list of crimes in their neighbourhood, and view heat maps of crime types to determine where crime is more prevalent, or by time of day to see when it is more prevalent.

Crime location icons are randomly offset within the block level to protect privacy. An incident at 123 Main Street will be mapped as 1XX Main Street and the icon within the 100-200 Main Street block.

Crime Stoppers Integration

Clipboard08One of the better features of the crime mapping is a Crime Stoppers reporting link on each incident to encourage more residents to report crime to police, with the ability to remain anonymous in doing so.

There is also a link to receive a free home security audit from the Hamilton Police Service Auxiliary.

Email Crime Alerts and Privacy

While the service is “free” to the Hamilton Police Service, (taxpayers foot the bill for  collection and distribution of the data exclusively to RAIDS) the service isn’t freely available for residents.

Residents may get crime alerts in exchange for agreeing to the potential use of their email and data from the site (neighbourhoods of alert interest) for third-party marketing.

An example being a local home security alarm company purchasing from RAID access to emailing residents seeking alerts on home theft in affluent neighbourhoods.

From the terms of use, italics emphasis added for focus upon relevant passages:

F. HOW WE USE YOUR INFORMATION. BAIR may use your personal information to:

(i) Fulfill subscription requests, orders for software and services made online and to provide other information you request.
(ii) Make the Site easier for you to use.
(iii) Help us customize content most relevant to your interests.
(iv) Notify you about important news concerning BAIR.
(v) Notify you of new products and services, product updates, technical support issues, events and special offers we think you may be interested in.

We do analyze some of our Web services such as registrations, demos, downloads, and e-mail responses at the individual level in order to improve the quality of those offerings and to better tailor our marketing to our customers’ needs.

G. HOW WE SHARE YOUR INFORMATION. We may share the personal data you provide with other BAIR entities and/or business partners for purposes related to those described above. We will not sell, rent or lease to others your personally identifiable information. BAIR reserves the right to disclose any and all pertinent information to law enforcement or other governmental officials as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate.

The Hamilton Police Service is reviewing their contract with RAIDS to determine if the local contract overrides these passages of the terms of use.

HPS were to review for privacy concerns after a March 2013 delegation by myself (Joey Coleman) to the Hamilton Police Services Board in regards to the selling of user data by police supported crime mapping sites.

Here’s video of the 2013 delegation and the letter submitted to both City Council and the Police Services Board in regards to privacy protection.

Next Steps: Camera Registry and Future Open Data

Police will be adding a feature for residents and businesses to register security cameras with HPS to enable investigators to contact camera owners during criminal investigations.

Police will not have access to the cameras, and police state that will only contact owners for specific investigative purposes.

In terms of open data, at this time, Hamilton Police are exploring future opportunities to release data.

The March 2013 Hamilton Police Services Board motion was specific to crime mapping and has been achieved.

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