Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 213–225 | Cite as

The mobilization of computerized crime mapping: a randomized controlled trial

  • Travis A. TaniguchiEmail author
  • Charlotte Gill



To develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a decentralized, smartphone-based crime mapping and analysis tool designed for law enforcement officers working in a patrol capacity.


A mixed-methods, block randomized controlled trial was conducted. Baseline and exit surveys were conducted to evaluate device usage, application usage, knowledge of crime clusters, and data sources that individuals perceived to be most useful in identifying crime clusters. Focus groups were used to explore contextual factors associated with app usage.


The results of this research suggest that patrol officers did not value the functionality offered by mobile crime mapping capabilities. Despite broad popularity of agency-provided smartphones, users saw little value in the custom app developed for those devices. Users reported that they were already aware of where crime was occurring and that the mobile platform did not provide useful additional details. Focus group members described some backfire effects of the evaluation methodology.


The results of this randomized experiment demonstrate that smartphone-based crime mapping technology was poorly adopted because it was not perceived as useful. These results suggest that decentralizing crime mapping to this degree may have limited utility for end users. However, advances in smartphone technology since this research was conducted may provide future opportunities for development.


Crime analysis Crime mapping Policing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Criminology, Law and SocietyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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