More than 20 years after his blockbuster murder trial, O.J. Simpson is back in the news — this time after Los Angeles police reportedly found a knife on the grounds of his former estate.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a retired police officer “has handed over a knife given to him by a construction worker who helped raze Simpson’s mansion in 1998.” The knife, which could have been used in the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, is now being tested by the police.
The news comes a month after a new television show dramatizing his sensational trial began airing on FOX.
The renewed interest in Simpson, now serving a prison term in Nevada for an unrelated robbery and kidnapping case, is reflected in online search traffic, according to Google Trends.
This graph shows search volume since 2004. Traffic has been relatively dormant over the years except for spikes, like in September 2007, when Simpson was arrested in Las Vegas on multiple felony counts after an altercation over sports memorabilia. Another spike in late 2008 reflects his conviction at trial. He’s now serving out a 33-year-term but is eligible for parole next year.
Searches for his name spiked significantly after the new show, starring Cuba Gooding Jr., began airing Feb. 2.
Regional trends are also evident in the searches. This map shows that searches in Nevada and the Las Vegas metro area more common than in other parts of the country. That makes sense because of the location of his trial and incarceration.
Someday O.J. Simpson will no longer capture the collective imaginations of Americans. Today is not that day, apparently.
Today I started playing with CartoDB, an online data mapping service that reminds me in some ways of both Google Fusion Tables and TileMill.
To start, I grabbed a simple test data set — five months of geocoded major crimes in D.C. from January to May this year — to check out some features. One I like is allowing users to query their data in the browser-based interface and filter for specific types of records.
Here, for example, I narrowed the map to show just thefts:
Assaults with deadly weapons:
Thefts from vehicles:
I made these maps in less than five minutes, so I’m sure there are much more useful stories to tell with the tool. There are also many, many features I didn’t explore, like the ability to style the map using Carto, the CSS-like language, rather than the UI.
Anyway, give it a shot, and let me know what you build.
HomicideWatch D.C. charted 2011 homicides late last month. This is a great batch of data, all hand collected by Laura and Chris Amico.
The Los Angeles Times has released a nifty interactive map and table of the recent arson fires in the City of Angels:
Since the morning of Dec. 30, a wave of intentional blazes has damaged property and left residents on edge. The fires range from the Westside to Hollywood and from the San Fernando Valley south to Lennox. Nine more fires were reported Monday morning. Officials have not confirmed whether some reported fires are related to the arson spree. The Times will update this map as more details become available.
I like how the fires are categorized by type — and that the Times’ data desk added a handy timeline to help readers visualize when the fires were set:
The FBI today released its mid-year crime figures from large cities around the county, and the data are positive, NPR reports:
The number of violent crimes reported by 12,500 U.S. law enforcement agencies fell 6.4 percent in the first half of this year compared to the same time in 2010, the FBI reports.
Using the federal data, which covers Jan. to June of this year, I plotted the figures on maps using proportional symbols. This first map shows the violent crime rate (bubble size increases with higher rates) by city.
While large cities like New York, Houston and Los Angeles have more violent crimes, visualizing the rate shows us cities in which residents are more likely to be victims. The rate in St. Louis, Mo., tops all cities with more than 100,000 residents. (The top 10 are labeled on the map).
The second map plots the murder rate, with New Orleans leading all U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents. (The top 10 are labeled on the map).
Larger versions: Violent crime | Murder
The Washington, D.C., official data catalog is a rich source for information about the nation’s capitol. Users can download dozens of free GIS products as well as datasets related to city functions (311 service requests, permits, etc.) in relatively clean tables.
For today’s visualization I downloaded some 31,000 serious crime incidents in 2010, and then uploaded them to Google Fusion Tables, a free online database manager with powerful querying and visualization tools. The data were already geocoded, so I filtered the table for homicides and made this simple map (click the photo to see a full-screen interactive version):
View an interactive map with all crimes, not just homicides.
Sources: D.C. Data Catalog, Google Fusion Tables | Raw Data: CSV