Defining Areas of Influence for Facility-Related Crime: Combining Spatial Techniques

Christopher M. Sedelmaier, Rutgers University

To study the potential effects of facilities upon local crime patterns, it is necessary to delineate an area that the individual facility is expected to influence. Buffers defined at a set distance - such as 1,000 feet around a school or for sex offender notification - may be inadequate for such studies, as they do not necessarily represent the realities of local-level activity patterns. Defining a facility's 'absolute' area of influence with Voronoi polygons or using a least-cost distance method may partially address this issue, but use of either method alone still incurs limitations. By combining these methods, researchers may address some of these limitations and construct 'realistic' areas of influence that are more reflective of probable human activity patterns than are buffers based upon either Euclidian distance or boundaries developed for other purposes. Using examples from an ongoing study of transit-related crime, this paper illustrates the benefits and limitations of the combined technique.

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Updated 05/20/2006