Explore Seven Years of NYC Murders

Adam DuVander, July 2nd, 2009

New York TimesA murder in New York is twice as likely to occur at night. And thankfully, we’ve just finished June, which statistically has slightly more murders than other months.

These bits of data come from the New York Times visualization of more than 3,000 homicides over seven years. The crimes are plotted on a map with custom tiles, with tiny markers denoting individual crimes. Rollover a marker and you see the details, such as the race and age of those involved.

Murders by weapon from NYTimes

You can drill down to see the murders by certain categories. In these circumstances the markers change colors based on the meta-data. For example, the screenshot shows weapons used: green for firearm, orange for knife and purple for other.

The Times has found a way to visualize what would otherwise be a spreadsheet of data in a meaningful way. What does a newspaper get out of this? For one, news stories, at least one so far. And they’re asking for tips from readers exploring the map.

This type of interactive visualization of crime data is a popular mashup theme and there are now 44 crime mashups in our directory.

While it helps with reporting, the Times’ site even stands out as a mashup. It is subtle, showing mounds of data in a way that is not overwhelming. It’s certainly an improvement over their earlier try three years ago.

In case it doesn’t stand on its own, the Google Maps team likes it. High praise for a mashup that many would benefit from emulating.

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Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.