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What is Applied Geography for the Study of Crime and Public Safety?

NCJ Number
Geography & Public Safety Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2008 Pages: 1-3
Date Published
February 2008
3 pages

After presenting an overview of geographic technologies, theories, and principles, this article discusses the use of computer software for crime mapping, the use of applied geography to understand crime and public safety, problem-oriented policing, and the creation of policy to prevent crime.


During the past decade, geographic technologies have enabled law enforcement agencies to analyze and address complex crime and public-safety problems through data capture, visualization, modeling, and problem solving. In the 1980s, geographic-analysis principles were used to create computer software that assists researchers in visualizing data, assessing human behavior within geographic space, following spatial patterns, validating theories, and examining how geography affects crime and public safety. Crime-mapping software has become a common tool for police in studying the spatial aspects of crime and making decisions about how best to use law enforcement and public-safety resources. In addition to mapping crime with computer software, crime analysts are conducting applied geography, a type of research that uses geographic principles to solve problems. Applied geography informs law enforcement decisionmakers about the physical environments in their jurisdictions, using data from two primary sources: incident data and base data. Incident data are derived from calls for service, incidents, or arrests. Base data contain information about the physical, demographic, and economic composition of the jurisdiction. Problem-oriented policing puts the results of crime mapping, applied geography, and theoretical analysis into practice in the field by defining problems, guiding the design of solutions, and testing the effectiveness of solutions applied at specific geographic spots. 2 notes

Date Published: February 1, 2008