Via the Stevenson Alley Blogging Demon, Bluoz (and picked up on the UpAl), we got wind of this bit that was apparently aired last month on the BBC.

It’s a brief glimpse in to Crimespotting project, which is just one of the many wondrous interactive projects based on public data that Stamen has put out… in 2009. Since this map is about crime, the video focuses solely on the Tenderloin (of course) and attributes its high crimes rates to its “flatter topography” (really? that reminds me of a speaker at a conference in Stanford a couple of years ago who attributed Africa’s problems to its elongated shape) and goes a long way to explaining why SOMA is a hellhole…

The only thing that I found quite silly about all of it is to think that you can lead your life according to what data sets tell you. Saying that you can look at the map and, based on where the highest density of crime is, “choose your commute” is is a bit of a fallacy as shown by the fact that this is a violent ass country with a lot of guns and unpredictable violence. Sadly, even safe areas like where Mechthild Schröer was walking last year can get you shot and killed by random assholes.

It also is dangerous to rely too much on isolated data other than a point of observation. Anyone of a “charitable mind” looking at maps like these will see the “downtrodden” and think that social services are most needed where these people are. But how about considering for a minute that because there are so many social services already there that these may be bringing about the concentration of problems. There is no system that correlates these various points of data yet, but there should be. Of course the issue of which came first, the crackhead or the eighth, isn’t so important as someday working towards a more appropriate spread of social services across the entire city.