Thanks to Denise Cumming for sending me the link to the creepy but cool crime reporting tool, Homicide Watch DC. On the Media did a nice story on the website and its founder, Laura Amico, a while back. I think it helps put the cool factor into a tool that in the wrong hands could feel quite creepy. Here is a description of the site, from the site…
Homicide Watch is a community-driven reporting project covering every murder in the District of Columbia. Using original reporting, court documents, social media, and the help of victims’ and suspects’ friends, family, neighbors and others, we cover every homicide from crime to conviction.
It’s an amazing example of how information begets more information. The site has been around since September, 2010. The founder regularly scans search engines and social media sites for new incidents of violent crime in DC. Often the mainstream news might partially report an incident, such as reporting a murder on Main Street on August 16. The next step might be to check Twitter for any mention of Main Street or look for terms such as murder, vigil or related terms. Finally they look at Google Analytics to the site, which often show what terms a search has used to find Homicide Watch DC. (Sadly Google has changed how much info they will report on keywords used to find a site; so that method may become less helpful over time.) Those terms often relate to a specific incident too. Through those paths, they can search for Facebook profiles or community email lists to get more info.
Once a confirmation connecting a reported incident and a person has been made, it will be reported and the story tracked on the Homicide Watch DC site. From there, visitors to the Homicide Watch DC site can share the page and/or make comments.
It’s an interesting concept. It seems as if most people related to the victims and crimes have been thankful to have their memories validated through recognition of the incident.