Raster Data is a data model that is used in analyzing crime, in the context of a Geographic Information Systems or “GIS.” GIS systems are implemented for a variety of reasons, including their ability to create maps (Hendrix, 2000). These maps and the accompanying data, can assist in detecting crime patterns, criminal hot spots, and other criminal type trends, all of which assist law enforcement in prevention and deterrence of crime.
Raster and vector models are among the two most commonly found in GIS systems (Hendrix, 2000). A Raster model turns the subject area being studied into a grid, comprised of cells which contain specific values (Id). A GIS with Raster models can be very helpful in tracking data that occurs over a certain area, such as crime patterns or incident rates in a particular location or series of locations. Data can be mapped in situations where events are occurring repeatedly in certain areas, which would tend to indicate crime density or propensities. Law enforcement analysts can proffer different questions to the GIS database and receive feedback regarding the same based upon the historic data available. Raster images are often pixel based, with each pixel holding a specific value or attribute, which can be acquired through a variety of imaging devices, or input manually (City of High Point, n.d). As a result, file sizes can become very large using the Raster data method.

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Despite such large file sizes, Raster data could be especially helpful instances where a community was experiencing an uptick in criminal activity, which may or may not be entirely obvious in terms of pattern, trend, or location. Raster data via the GIS system would provide local law enforcement with tangible data to support prevention efforts, patrol activity, and other investigatory actions. The GIS system tools enable law enforcement agencies to work smarter and to cover more ground through the use of technology.

  • Hendrix, E.H. (2000) “Police Department Use of Geographic Information Systems for Crime Analysis.” NCJ, from Atlas of Crime: Mapping the Criminal Landscape, P 236-247. Retrieved from: https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=193492
  • “Raster Data and Vector Data.” (n.d). City of High Point, N.C. Web. Retrieved from: http://www.highpointnc.gov/gis/raster_v_vector_data.cfm