Interactive map of rats in New York
Experts estimates that there are twice as much rats as people in New York city which makes it close to 20 million. It’s a real plague. The city started couple of initiatives to fight it. One of them included sharing the data from city’s 311 hotline on New York City Open Data portal.
We didn’t have to wait long for effects. Meredith Myers – a programmer and data visualizer created a map which shows the last 10,000 rat sightings that have been called into the city’s social services hotline. The map is updated daily but 10k of complains goes back about 6 month (New York received 24,511 complaints about rats last year).
What does the map tell us? You can clearly see that some areas are bright red, with hundreds more reports than nearby neighborhoods. It most likely suggests a simple access to food for rats. This might indicate that people in the area require some additional education about waste management or simply to put poison in rodent tunnels.
The map itself won’t solve the problem but looking at the problem from spatial perspective will definitely help.
Police uses GPS to track credit card skimmers
Credit card skimming is a popular method for criminals to lift sensitive information from cards that have account information embedded on a magnetic stripe, or magstripe. The creativity of criminals for capturing your card’s data is huge. Typical skimming devices have ability to store card data, which is used in conjunction with pinhole cameras or other fake keypads to record users’ PIN number. Captured data is then sent to fraudsters, using mobile phone data networks or Bluetooth.
Recently I came across an interesting case study of new method used by police in California. One morning last year the Redlands, CA police department received a call about a skimming device that was found attached to a local gas pump. Due to lack of resources for time-consuming stakeout the police decided to go for a small GPS tracking device installed inside the skimming device.
At around 5 a.m. the next morning the device started to ping the movement. Using handheld radios to pinpoint the exact location of the tracker, the police was able to locate the suspects, who were caught with several other similar devices. Of course, some more advanced skimmers use wireless devices and are ready to leave their devices behind. But for now, it’s an innovative way to catch criminals.