Nova Scotia

Halifax students map crime online

A new website created by Halifax journalism students allows residents to see how many emergency calls were made on their street in the last five years.

A new website created by Halifax journalism students allows residents to see how many emergency calls were made on their street in the last five years.

Journalism students at the University of King's College created the project. They studied a database of 650,000 911 calls for Halifax Regional Police since 2006 and plotted them on a map.

"The whole project is basically about taking data the police gave us and mapping it out so people can make sense of it," said student Patrick Odell. "Basically looking at crime calls, where they occur, and letting people know what's going on in what parts of the city."

The website lets Haligonians look up prevalence of assault, weapons or drug calls in different neighbourhoods. It also allows citizens to look up the type and number of calls from a particular street.

Surprising findings

Student Schenley Brown said there are important issues at stake.

"We really wanted to know how it affects people, the reaction, which will obviously come later. Actually knowing what's happening in your neighbourhood is a big thing when you're choosing where you're living," she said.

Nicola McGroarty and Carly Whittamore, university students living on Vernon Street, looked up their area and found five calls reporting assaults.

"It's really surprising. It's definitely surprising," said McGroarty.

Halifax Regional Police spokesman Brian Palmeter said he was impressed by the students' initiative and said police plan to follow with a crime map of their own.

"It's an amazing amount of work that's gone into it. It's something we're actually looking at bringing to the public now — a regular mapping feature that allows the public to see what's going on in the community," he said.

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