Issues with crime locations

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    Importing January 2012’s crime data has been particularly frustrating. We are aware of the new snap-point changes in December (and welcome them) but for some unknown reason it appears have decided that each crime location (denoted in Easting/Northing) is no longer an integer, but now a decimal.

    For example, Tenby Street (Avon and Somerset) used to have an Easting/Northing of 360620/173271. We know this as we keep a record of all data published by when they release the crime data each month. Tenby’s location has now changed to 360620.000774/173270.999476.

    Now, to the casual observer it’s easy to see that, when rounded, they are the same. But for an application that is expecting integers, to suddenly go decimal – all sorts of problems can happen, and did. In summary, our application didn’t recognize that this Tenby Street is one and same, it created a duplicate.

    We’re not sure why they did this, and why they felt it necessary to go back and alter every Street CSV file since December 2010, but we believe it was probably a rounding issue that accidentally got published.

    The second issue is related to the first, but a little more serious. After recognizing that simply rounding the data would match sufficiently with most of our current known locations, it appears that we still saw duplicates.

    For example, Fir Vale Road (Dorset Police) shows that in May 2011 (and other months no doubt) an Easting/Northing of 408982.0008/91363.99942. Now we see this change (by 1 metre) in January to 408981.0008/91362.99942. The problem here is that even after we round the Easing/Northings we still get 2 different locations. We therefore developed a cleansing script that looked specifically for this pattern, and that told our database to now treat these 2 locations as the same.

    While we can’t guarantee we’ve merged every street that has been changed (since have never published in detail what, when or why they change data) we do believe we’re closer to the truth. As always we welcome any feedback regarding any possible anomalies.



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