Azavea Atlas

Maps, geography and the web

HunchLab – New Functionality, Two Videos and a Great Partner

Fueled by coffee and ice pops, the Law Enforcement team has been busy this year. We have been awarded a National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Phase IIb grant to continue the development of new functionality, attended conferences and conventions and started working with a great partner, Jerry Ratcliffe from Temple’s Department of Criminal Justice .

Earlier this year, Robert Cheetham gave a presentation on HunchLab, our web-based geographic crime visualization, early warning and risk forecasting application at the Space Time Modeling and Analysis workshop as part of Redlands GIS Week.

Other presentations from the conference can be found here.

We have extended our hot spot/kernel density tool to allow for the animation of the maps to see how the density shifts through time.

With our NSF SBIR Phase IIB, we are working on different risk forecasting tools. The first tool that we are building in collaboration with Jerry Ratcliffe is a web-based near repeat analysis and visualization tool.

Near Repeat UI

While collecting links for this post, I stumbled across this video of Jerry and Little Nellie.

Crime Science vs. Criminology

The video below is of Professor Gloria Laycock, Director of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science talking about near repeat patterns and other risk forecasting methodologies being researched at the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science. She makes an interesting statement in regards to the differences between criminology and crime science which she describes as:

…the use of science and scientists directly in the control of crime. Not just using technology, but getting everyone to think as scientists and test hypotheses to build knowledge from the data

ArcGIS Explorer – 5 Favorite Things

ESRI released a new version of ArcGIS Explorer a couple of weeks ago and it is a lot different from the previous version. There are more offerings in base maps, data as well as just a usable application. The following are my 5 favorite things after playing with the application.

Globe, 2D & 3/D Display

Sometimes you want things round…

Globe View

Sometimes you want things flat…

2D View

Then there are times you want a different point of view…

Oblique Perspective

Data Offerings

Built right into the interface are a number of base maps that allow you to switch between a number of ArcGIS Online map services as well as the ability to view the use Microsoft’s Bing! Maps (after registering to do so…)
Base Map Offerings

There are also a number of new data types that can be brought in locally or via the web.

Data Offerings

2007 High Resolution Aerial WMS Service hosted by New Jersey Office of GIS and a Layer Package showing the different play spots at Scudders Falls

Routing & Geocoding

Somehow or another, I always end up being the guy who has to give directions. Being the nerd that I am, I take GPS Coordinates of all the places we go paddling or mountain biking. Now I can store all of them in one place and share them (jumping the gun here, that is my next item) with friends so they can get directions from wherever they are coming from (and stop blaming me when they get lost). It uses the ArcGIS Online Routing Task Service and so far noone has gotten upset with me about the directions.

A trip we had talked about doing using previously collected GPS coordinates from a GPX file and the routing functions in ArcExplorer

A trip we had talked about doing using previously collected GPS coordinates in a GPX file and the routing functions in ArcGIS Explorer

There is also a ‘Find’ function in the application. I did a search for Ohiopyle Falls, and it dropped the pin right on it.


ESRI built the functionality to share ArcGIS Explorer maps right into the application. There are two methods, the first is bundling everything up and saving it as a Map Content File (.nmc), the second is creating the Map Content File and launching your email client to send it out the door.

Presentation Mode

When I heard about the Presentation Mode at the ESRI Business Partner Conference, I got excited. How many times have you had to update a presentation’s screenshot because the data was updated?

Aerial view of the Ohiopyle falls, a shot of Tom F. going over the falls and shot that was taken standing next to the rim of the falls.

Aerial view of the Ohiopyle falls, a shot of Tom F. going over the falls and shot that was taken standing next to the rim of the falls.

I do have to admit that it took me a little while to understand how to build the presentation. For me it wasn’t 100% obvious that to add an image, you had to put it in as a separate layer. But once I got my head around that, it was easy. There are predefined styles for the titles, easy to use image placement interface. you can download the I cannot wait to do my next presentation!

I have made the presentation file available for download, but you will need to visit ESRI’s ArcGIS Explorer site download and install ArcGIS Explorer if you don’t already have it installed.

Whitewater References

I referenced a couple of my favorite kayaking spots, the following links will take you there if you have any interest.
Tohickon Creek
Upper Gorge of the Lehigh River
Lower Gorge of the Lehigh River
Scudders Falls
Ohiopyle Falls Race
Ohiopyle Falls
The Lower Youghioheny
US National Whitewater Center
Nantahala River

Google Fusion Tables – First Look

In June, Google Labs released Fusion Tables.  According to Google’s description, Fusion Tables are:

a service for managing large collections of tabular data in the cloud…You can apply filters and aggregation to your data, visualize it on maps and other charts, merge data from multiple tables, and export it to the Web or csv files.

I wanted to take it for a spin, so I got some data from the Public Crime application we built for the Philadelphia Police Department and loaded it into a Google spreadsheet. You can import local files (.XLS, .XLSX, .CSV & .ODS) as well as import directly from Google Spreadsheets to the tables. One thing to note is that once the file or spreadsheet is imported into a Fusion Table, there is no bulk import functionality to update from outside files. The Fusion Table expects to become the application that manages the data.

After the import there is the interface to create metadata that stays with the dataset for its life span.


Once the data is in the table, there are a number of ways if interpreting the data.  There are filtering capabilities that allow you to build ad-hoc queries against the table and perform aggregations to generate reports on the data.


The functionality that most excited me about Fusion Tables was the visualization capabilities. Leveraging the filtering and aggregation, the charts can tell a pretty compelling story. Another note, the embeddable code seemed a little buggy, the aggregations did not get carried over to the script tag.



By choosing the ‘Map’ option from the ‘Visualize’ menu brought up a Google Map with all of the points that could be geocoded on the map.


I guess for performance reasons, Google is limiting the number of points on the map to 200.  Maybe that number will be increased when it is released out of Labs,  we’ll have to see.

There is a lot of functionality that I haven’t touched on, maybe in a future post. I have made the Fusion Table publicly accessible (but not editable), so feel free to go and play around with it.

Final Note: I did have to do some editing to the source data and it does not reflect the information that is directly downloaded from the PPD Public Crime site. Those edits included:

  • Removing the word ‘BLOCK’ from the address field
  • Appending the address with ‘,Philadelphia, PA’ to facilitate geocoding
  • Removing the columns that stores the local coordinates