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Police Service Crime Mapping as Civic Technology: A Critical Assessment


  • Teresa Scassa

    (University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada)


It is increasingly common for municipal police services in North America to make online crime maps available to the public. This form of civic technology is now so widely used that there is a competitive private sector market for crime mapping platforms. This paper considers the crime maps made available by three Canadian police forces using platforms developed by U.S.-based private sector corporations. The paper considers how these crime maps present particular narratives of crime in the city, evaluates the quality of the mapped data, and explores how laws shape and constrain the use and reuse of crime data. It considers as well the problems that may arise in using off-the-shelf solutions – particularly ones developed in another country. It asks whether this model of crime mapping advances or limits goals of transparency and accountability, and what lessons it offers about the use of private sector civic technologies to serve public sector purposes.

Suggested Citation

  • Teresa Scassa, 2016. "Police Service Crime Mapping as Civic Technology: A Critical Assessment," International Journal of E-Planning Research (IJEPR), IGI Global, vol. 5(3), pages 13-26, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:igg:jepr00:v:5:y:2016:i:3:p:13-26

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