Photo Credit: PBS News Hour - http://to.pbs.org/2pSsIrK
SFPD Crimemapper 3000
Skill Test for Potential Hire

Format: Custom Google Maps Implementation with User Interface Concept Overlay
Date: 2013
Skills & Tech: Photoshop, UI/UX, Google Maps API, XML

In 2013 I was seeking employment with a startup Defense IT contractor based out of Austin, TX who were looking to open an office in Columbia, MD. This particular company was focused heavily on information science, big data management, and creative applications that make it easy for high-level decision makers to get the facts, statistics, and analysis they need to quickly and effectively allocate resources and personnel. Not only was their technology interesting and exciting, I was impressed by their focus on user-centered interfaces; especially since this was back before "User Experience" was a household name.

The test consisted of a basic outline of the goal, a profile of the end user (the Chief of Police), a CSV file of crime data over a period of months, and the freedom to pursue the objective however I wanted. Already having experience working with the Google Maps API, I proceeded to convert the CSV file into XML that would provide location and categorization information for the map Points of Interest.

I used custom Google Maps styles to flatten the map of unnecessary topographical information in order to provide a clean canvas to display the data on and established a color-coded categorization system for the individual crimes. I also created transparent, color-coded map icons for each crime type that would not only make it easy to spot a string of arsons, but also provided an ad hoc heat map with the areas swathed in heavy red being the most seriously effected by the most dangerous crimes.

However crime is only half the story and half of the information a Police Chief would need when considering resource and personnel management. I researched the locations of SFPD precincts and their HQ and added them to the XML file with their custom icons and styles. I also added the ability to turn the various POIs off and on. At this point I had already surpassed my pre-existing abilities as a Developer, having already picked up several new tricks with the Google Maps API, and I was running out of time with the deadline looming.

I decided to table the working prototype and use a screenshot of it as the base layer for a design comp that would at least allow me do demonstrate the rest of my ideas for the application. Continuing with the line of thinking that information on police resources would be just as crucial as information on crime, I added precinct crime summary boxes, SFPD patrol routes and cruiser locations (ingested from GPS data), heatmaps for violence against officers, precinct budgets, property values and surveillance; and a filter for morning, evening, and/or overnight shift.

While ultimately the startup did not go through with the planned expansion to Columbia and I did not get hired, I had a lot of fun and learned so much working on this project that it was a valued experience nonetheless.
UI Comp for an internal crime and police resource tracking tool utilizing the Google Maps API.

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