Crime Mapping On-line: Public Perception of Privacy Issues

  • Ourania Kounadi
  • Kate Bowers
  • Michael Leitner


The Web 2.0 technology introduced dynamic web mapping, which in turn has dramatically changed the distribution and use of geographical information in our society. Some of the many advantages of online mapping include the fast information dissemination to the public, the interactivity between the users and the map interface, as well as the frequent and easy database updates. However, the theme of these maps may entail privacy risks at times. Such examples include the crime mapping initiatives where crime information is considered as private and sensitive. With respect to privacy disclosure risks, this study employs a survey design to investigate the public’s perception of location privacy when information about crimes is being displayed on public maps. Participants from the London Borough of Camden were recruited and their views were analysed by means of a questionnaire accompanied by mapping material (n = 201). Participants expressed a clear concern when practical implications related to the crime maps were revealed to them. Further, the majority of participants, if given the choice, would opt for a medium-risk protection method in terms of risk of privacy violation. Lastly, in regards to the impact that different visualizations may have on local crime perception the study revealed that the current cartographic technique creates the perception of more unsafe neighbourhoods than an alternative hot routes density map.


Confidentiality Location privacy Public perception and crime mapping 



This research was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) through the Doctoral College GIScience at the University of Salzburg (DK W 1237-N23).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ourania Kounadi
    • 1
  • Kate Bowers
    • 2
  • Michael Leitner
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Doctoral College GIScience Department of Geoinformatics – Z_GISUniversity of SalzburgStatutory cityAustria
  2. 2.Department of Security and Crime ScienceUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Geography and AnthropologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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