Thinking Tech

Infographic: Just how safe is your neighborhood?

Infographic: Just how safe is your neighborhood?

Posting in Cities

An interactive map can tell you the various crime levels within a community for 50 major U.S. cities.

Crime rates in the Chicago area. Click to enlarge.

Is the neighborhood safe?

That's the one question that's often on the forefront of people's minds when they consider where to live or buy real estate. For those who want hard numbers, there is data available for crime rates in certain cities, and beyond that, you can get a sense of how safe a specific region of the city is through word-of-mouth assessments.

But often times, this information isn't enough to get an accurate feel for an area since crime rates can vary drastically from one block to another. For instance, I once stayed at an apartment in Los Angeles that was smack dab in the middle of a crime-ridden area whereas a mere couple blocks away, it felt like a whole different world.

Fortunately, the real estate site Trulia had their tech wizards gather up city-wide crime data from a wide range of sources and created an interactive map that tells you the various crime levels within a community for 50 major U.S. cities. What makes the map that much more useful is that it provides users with an understanding of crime data at an exceptionally hyper local scale.

Here are some of the map's highlights:

  • The map gives users a jist of how dangerous it is in different parts of a city down to specific streets and blocks by using an intuitive color-coded scheme known as "heatmap." Blocks with 0-30 incidents of crime per year are shown in green while the ones with 160 incidents or displayed as red.
  • The map also offers filtering of the information by specific crimes such as burglary, vandalism and shootings.

  • A graph at the bottom of the map displays the degrees of crime happening at different times of the day.

  • The map includes a chart that lists the most dangerous intersections in that city. These streets are represented on the map as dark circles that display the recent number of crimes in that location. Point the cursor on the intersection and a drop down list provides more specific data, such as the date and time of these incidents occurred as well as what type of crimes they were.

The data comes from sources like CrimeReports.com, EveryBlock.com, and SpotCrime.com. These sites cull their data from police departments, crime feeds, and news reports.

Even if you're not in the market for a new place to live, you still might be curious to see the crime rates in your neck of the woods. So go click on over to Trulia's crime maps and find out.

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure