Works in Progress - Autumn 2010

High (and Low) Crimes and Misdemeanors

By Emily Ochoa | June 24, 2013


Flying in at night, many of us take comfort from the way the lines of streetlights reveal the familiar topography of our hometown. For Doug McCune, a computer programer, seeing the contours of San Francisco in that way inspired him to present crime statistics about his native city as a sort of topographical map.

McCune digitized public data and re-contoured the city’s signature hills as representations of the distribution of arrests for such offenses as narcotics, vehicle theft, and prostitution. “I like the concept of creating something you think you’re used to seeing but making it represent something completely different,” he says. “Without even thinking, your brain assumes it knows what you’re looking at, and then you have to do a double take.”

Pleased that his maps have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, McCune now plans to create plastic models of his statistical hills and valleys. His goal in going 3-D, he says, is “to bring the data into the real world.”

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