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The Unintended Consequences Of Free Information

The Unintended Consequences Of Free Information

Do crime maps actually make the problem worse?

Dan Gould

Reader Ulrik Hogrebe responds with some interesting thoughts about our recent post highlighting StumbleSafely, a project that visualizes crime to map safer routes for late night revelers in Washington D.C.:

I think there is a problem with this kind of mapping – mainly that you risk stigmatizing certain neighborhoods and areas, driving down property values, increasing fear levels, spurring people with resources to move out of the area and generally, you risk compounding the problem rather than solving it. While information should certainly be free, we – as creators of that information – also need to be aware that releasing any kind of information into the world can have unintended consequences and work at coming up with solutions to counter them. Sometimes I feel it is too easy to just throw stuff out there under the “information should be free, let somebody else sort it out” banner.

See also: broken windows theory.

Ulrik Hogrebe

StumbleSafely: Visualizing Crime To Map Safer Routes Home

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