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Tracking Social Life and Crime

Abstract

An individual’s decision to commit a crime is influenced, among other things, by his/her whereabouts over time and space. In this chapter, we suggest the use of geographic information systems (GIS), combined with space–time budget techniques, to visualise and track individuals’ daily activities patterns. We first test several GIS-based visualisation techniques for handling spatial and temporal dimensions of activity patterns using a dataset of adolescents in Peterborough, UK. Later, we show how these spatial methods can support the creation of measures of environmental exposure that may help predict group-level offending. Findings indicate that visualisation techniques are effective tools for exploratory analysis of how individuals differ in their patterns of activity across the city. Results also show that tracking groups of individuals by using measures of environmental exposure, in combination with individual characteristics and settings, can help explain differences in their levels of offending.

Keywords

  • Geographic Information System
  • Time Budget
  • Modifiable Areal Unit Problem
  • Social Disorganisation Theory
  • Risky Environment

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The possibility of using real-time location data has, for instance, opened up a number of new research questions and, perhaps, answers to old ones. Examples include work by MIT’s Senseable City Lab, UrbanSense at UCLA, Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University and the i-Mobility lab at KTH, Sweden. These projects serve as examples to illustrate the unlimited opportunities mobile communications offer today to understand urban activities and monitor them over time.

  2. 2.

    EDs were later replaced by Output Areas (OA).

  3. 3.

    This procedure can be performed with any other GIS software, such as MapInfo, under ‘create points’ tool, or ArcView 3.x, by ‘add point theme’.

  4. 4.

    These techniques are implemented in CrimeStat 2.0 by Ned Levine & Associates, available at http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/crimestat.html#MAPS.

  5. 5.

    http://edina.ac.uk/digimap/

  6. 6.

    SQL – Structured Query Language, a language used by relational databases to query, update and manage data.

  7. 7.

    Software available at http://geodacenter.asu.edu/

  8. 8.

    In the subsequent analysis, time spent in neighbourhood with poor collective efficacy was also part of the measure of environmental risk.

  9. 9.

    The Peterborough Study incorporated indicators from a community survey in later analysis. Findings are reported in Wikström et al. 2010.

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Ceccato, V., Wikström, P.O.H. (2011). Tracking Social Life and Crime. In: Ceccato, V. (eds) The Urban Fabric of Crime and Fear. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4210-9_7

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