Chesterton Tribune

 

 

CPD posts GIS accident crime maps to the municipal website

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Where in the Town of Chesterton do the highest concentrations of traffic accidents occur?

Where would one find--if one were looking for them--the neighborhoods most likely to be victimized by property crime?

How many registered sex offenders reside in Chesterton, and where do they live?

The answers to these questions are now only a few clicks away, with the online launch earlier this spring by the Chesterton Police Department of a series of “crime maps.”

The maps--prepared by MS4 Operator and municipal GPS guru and number cruncher Jennifer Gadzala, with data provided by Police Chief Dave Cincoski--are available on the town’s website, at www.chestertonin.org

Click on “Menu,” then on “Government,” then on “Departments,” then on “Police Department,” and scroll to the bottom of the page for links to a Vehicle Crash Map, a Crime Map, and a Sex Offender Location Map.

Try, for instance, the Crash Map. Hit the link and you’ll see three different icons: a simple car, for property-damage accidents; an ambulance for personal injury accidents; and a squad car for hit-and-runs. Click on an icon for a thumbnail description of the crash, with time, date, day of week, location, and investigating officer’s name.

Not surprisingly, many of the accidents are clustered along Ind. 49, with particularly heavy concentrations at the intersections of Indian Boundary Road and Gateway Blvd. Thus, through the first three months of 2018, the CPD responded to nine property-damage accidents and one hit-and-run in the area of Ind. 49 and Indian Boundary and seven more at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Gateway Blvd.

Or consider this: through the first quarter of the year, the CPD responded to 27 crashes of all types at the four main traffic-controlled intersections along Ind. 49: Indian Boundary Road, East Porter Ave., 1100N, and Gateway Blvd. And of those, fully 17--or 63 percent--occurred during morning or afternoon rush-hour.

The Crime Map works in much the same way, with the icon of a crook holding a money bag representing property crime and that of a badge representing violent crime. Hit the icon for specific information on the kind of offense, the time, date, day of week, and location.

In addition, the Crime Map includes an “aggregation” feature, in which every quarter-mile within the town’s corporate limits has been divided into hexagonal “bins,” as Gadzala calls them. The darker the color of the bin, the more incidents of property (or violent) crime reported in that quarter-mile section. Click on the bin and you’ll get a summary of the crimes with the number per day of the week.

Three months’ worth of data probably aren’t sufficient to draw anything but provisional conclusions about the prevalence and concentration of property or violent crime in any of the town’s neighborhoods. But data will be input periodically, with the latest addition scheduled for sometime this week or next, and eventually the maps will offer at any given time 13 full months of data, Cincoski told the Chesterton Tribune.

The Sex Offender Map works in the same way as the other two. As of March 31, three registered sex offenders were residing in Chesterton. Click on the icon--a thumbtack--for the offender’s name, age, address, and conviction.

One notable feature of the system: toggles allow users to filter accidents or crimes by type as well as to select the kind of map: street view, aerial, topographic, and more. Users may also print the map and share it.

For Cincoski, the maps should prove valuable both to residents and to the CPD. “Certain crimes have cyclical patterns, depending on the time of year or weather conditions,” he said. “Residents can see where crimes are occurring, be more vigilant and aware, and harden their property and belongings against criminal interest.”

“Chesterton has finished as a ranked municipality in safe cities and towns designations a number of times over the last several years,” Cincoski noted. “Residents looking to re-locate to Chesterton can use the maps to verify for themselves the safety of our community.”

Meanwhile, “department officers can also utilize the maps to determine high crime areas and peak hours for more focused patrol and investigative efforts,” Cincoski added. “The information can lead too to directing traffic control efforts in areas seeing high crash volumes at certain times. And the data can be used to determine staffing levels and hours of need, historical crime trends and patterns, and for grant opportunities.”

Gadzala, Cincoski added, “has been invaluable in the preparation of this information and in making it available to the public.”

Gadzala, for her part, sees the maps as part of a larger “smart community” movement based on GIS data and interactive maps posted to municipal websites. “Data analysis provides insights into trends and patterns,” she said. “It allows smart communities to calculate data-related densities and find data-related hotspots, for example. For most communities, data analysis can approximate spatial and temporal information associated with comprehensive planning and development or just data-driven smart decision making.”

“For the public,” on the other hand, “data-driven maps are valuable in opening the dialogue of civic engagement and providing data that are useful to their daily lives,” Gadzala said. “These maps put crash and crime data into visual context in the public’s community and on their streets.”

 

Posted 5/24/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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