The Use of Spatial Technology for Crime Mapping


A Geographical Information System is a tool which can be used to conceptualize data and support in decision-making. It can be used to read, store, edit, showcase and analyse spatial data, which makes it a viable tool for numerous applications. What makes GIS effective is its ability to connect completely dissimilar features on the basis of positioning data of the target area. GIS is not only a tool but it is also a decision support system for policymakers as it can help officials understand the problems at any level, be it the country level or village level. GIS can be used to manage large amounts of spatial data, perform spatial analysis and showcase the result in map/graphical form for uncomplicated viewing.

The resulting maps from GIS can be used for numerous applications; which include ‘Crime Mapping & Dark Spot Analysis’.

According to the 2016 report of the National Crime Record Bureau, Government of India, the number of recorded crimes in India was 48,31,515, which was 2.6 per cent more than its preceding year. The number of crimes under the Indian Penal Code in 2016 was 29,75,711, which was 0.9 per cent more than 2015. On the other hand, crimes under the Special & Local Laws saw a steep rise of 5.4 per cent from 2015 and stood at 18,55,804. 2016 also saw an increase in violent crimes, which include murder and kidnapping. Talking about Crimes against Women, Madhya Pradesh registered 4,882 cases of rape while Uttar Pradesh registered 4,816 cases of rape in 2016. These two states comprised of almost 25 per cent of rape cases registered in the country, which stood at 38,947. In urban India, Delhi accounted for 33 per cent of all crimes against women in metro cities. The capital also reported the highest crime rate among all metropolitan cities in 2016, at 182.1 per 100,000 population as opposed to the national average of 77.2 (NCRB, 2016).

To stay one step ahead of Crime, governments are now using GIS to map potential crime zones based on previous data. If we take the example of Mumbai, there might be an area which has seen a high number of loot activities in the past. Using GIS, the government can recognize such areas and deploy effective measures to avoid future incidents. Using GIS, governments can also identify areas based on their ethnicity and religious diversity to understand and avoid discrimination based crimes.

The Karnataka Natural Resources Data Management System (NRDMS) programme studied the Shimoga district, Karnataka to carry out Crime Mapping using GIS. The results are as follows:
Fig 1: Population Distribution in Shimoga District
Source: KCST
Fig 2: Crime Categories in Shimoga District
Source: KCST

In the above figures, we can see the distribution of the population in the district along with the crime categories of all areas. These can be used to deduce patterns and help the government deploy effective measures as required. GIS in Crime Mapping acts as an effective decision support system for the governments.

Year by year, India is losing the fight against crimes against women. The number of cases of molestation, harassment and rapes are increasing every year. Delhi saw 2199 incidents of rape in 2016, while the number was 706 in 2012. This can be attributed to more women coming forward to report crimes against them. However, on the other hand, the conviction rates in rape cases have decreased drastically (NCRB, 2016). To mitigate these incidents, the Delhi Government decided to identify and eradicate dark spots in the city. Reducing dark spots can assist in drastically improving women’s safety in the city. In a survey, it was found that there are 7438 dark spots in Delhi, which aid in crimes (Safetipin, 2016). This dark spot analysis was conducted using GIS and the process to light up these dark spots has already started (Hindu, 2016).

GIS has shown that it is more than just a tool and has emerged as a decision support system for governments all around the globe. The applications of GIS are numerous and it can be used to present ground level answers as it lets the officials understand ground level problems. Crime Mapping and Dark Spot Analysis are two of the many applications through which GIS is helping the common man. While GIS may be a pool of technical elements for a layman, it is improving governance one map at a time.

NRDMS, under the Department of Science& Technology, is constantly working towards developing the spatial data infrastructure in the country for micro level planning across diverse terrain. To know more about NRDMS, visit

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