MARYLAND — Few subjects are more worrying for college studentsand their parents than campus crime. With crimes ranging from bicycle and iPodthefts to public intoxication arrests or muggings, many students, as well asparents and community members, are concerned with what crimes are occurring,when and where.
The crime mapping Web site UCrime.com is hoping to allay the fears ofparents and students by compiling crime statistics for several hundreduniversities onto online maps searchable by location, date and category.
UCrime.com gathers information from local police departments and trackseach incident on a map of the campus area. There is also an option for users tomake their own reports and add crimes to the map.
UCrime co-founder Colin Drane got the idea for the site while working forits sister site, SpotCrime.com, that tracks crime in urban areas and maps theseincidents to show the time, location and nature of area crimes.
“Because of our work with that, and also knowing about the Clery Act, wethought that universities would be a good problem to tackle as well,” saidDrane.
The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to make a campus crime logavailable to the community and to issue an annual comprehensive report of crimestatistics for the campus.
University of Iowa crime prevention specialist Brad Allison thought thatUCrime had a “good concept.”
“As long as it’s public record of an arrest … there’s no reason why itshouldn’t be there,” he said.
Maj. Gloria Graham of the Duke University Police Department agreed that theidea of mapping crimes is useful and that many police departments already do so.However, she did have concerns about UCrime’s for-profit status and that whenlast she looked the Duke site hadn’t been updated for some time.
“It’s not real current, not real accurate,” she said. “I’m not quite surewhere they get their information, and they won’t disclose that to me.”
University of Iowa’s Allison also questioned the timeliness of the site’sinformation, noting that many recent arrests are nowhere to be found on UCrime’smap.
Drane said that all information on the site is unfiltered and unchangedwhat UCrime gets from campus police departments.
“Sometimes they question the accuracy of our data, but really the datacomes from them,” Drane said.
Alison Kiss, program director for the national campus crime preventiongroup Security on Campus, believes UCrime’s map could be a useful tool ifcombined with other resources, but that students should remain aware and notdevelop a false sense of security.
“If you have a map where all the crime is occurring, it doesn’t mean thatcrime’s not occurring other places. It just means it’s not reported,” shesaid.