IDP2015 (VIII). Juan José Medina Ariza: Crime Mapping and the Smart City

Notes from the 11th Internet, Law and Politics Congress: Regulating Smart Cities, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on 2-3 July 2015. More notes on this event: idp2015.

Smart city, smart policing
Prof. Dr. Dr. Juan José Medina Ariza. Professor of Criminology (University of Manchester)

Security has traditionally been based on a top-down visions, a centralized control room.

Many municipalities have sort of “dashboards” that map the city crime, security issues, socio-economic indicators, etc.

These dashboards aim at locating clusters where more crime takes place, identifying the determinants or correlating factors of that crime, etc. After this clustering and correlations, one can create tools that can try to predict crime, based on trends and simulations. And once crime is “predicted”, then comes “predicted policing”, that aims at stopping crime just before it takes place, going to the place where crime is most likely to happen.

Problems when opening data: What happens when we open the data? How legitimate is its collection? How fair is its analysis?

The risks of Campbell’s law: the more one uses an indicator for decision-making purposes, the less it is useful for decision-making purposes, as it use imprints a bias into the indicator itself.

We know too that in some cases, there are biases in citizens reporting crime: many of them will not be eager to report crime, because this will diminish the value of their real state, because of own security reasons, etc.

What’s next? From predicting hotspots to individual predictions. A growing awareness about the problems with algorithms. Going back to measuring what matters. Privatised criminal justice is not science fiction any longer.

On the other hand, we will maybe see a rise in transparency in what relates to police practices, like stop and search.

There is a problem with profiling with big data, as in the one hand it is built upon evidence, but on the other hand it can strengthen biases, stigmas and prejudices.


E.J. Koops: does crime mapping represent reality or constitutes reality? Juan José Medina: this is definitely a problem with mapping that needs being addressed specifically in each and every case.


11th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2015)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2015) “IDP2015 (VIII). Juan José Medina Ariza: Crime Mapping and the Smart City” In ICTlogy, #142, July 2015. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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