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American Sins, GPS, GIS and Mobile Software Applications that Show It All

Using Geospatial Data and Per Capita Data to Surprise

A team at Kansas State University using per-capita stats maps out the regions where there is the most sin.  This is interesting not just for the sensationalism of it, but for the cleverness of the team at Kansas State.  How does one take per-capita stats and make them interesting for the masses that suffer from sound-biteitis?  We can learn from this team.  Let's first take a look at the 7 deadly sins.

  1. Greed
  2. Envy
  3. Wrath
  4. Sloth
  5. Gluttony
  6. Wrath
  7. Pride

These sins were interpreted from crime and other kinds of statistics on a per capita basis across the USA.  Aren't you just itching to know where the biggest concentrations of these sinners are located?  Should we add impatience to the list?

Let's ponder these maps for a moment.  The team at Kansas State took per-capita stats and overlaid them on a map.  What other uses are there for this kind of visual information?  I have some ideas.

How many of you have ever visited a new city and wondered what locations in the city were relatively safe, and which areas were certainly not?  I have many times.  Most often I have placed my life and wallet in the hands of an immigrant taxi cab driver or the hotel clerk by asking their advice.  I want a mobile software application for my iPhone that would quickly show me crime stats overlaid on a map of the city.  Show me!  Warn me!  If I am going to die in a city, at least I want to be on a map!

I love layering information over maps.  It makes boring stats so visually stimulating.  Show me how many accidents happen each year on this block in the city.  Show me how many people die each year in that apartment building.  How many babies were born in this part of the city in April.  I want to see bright colors on a map.

The maps that the Kansas State team prepared did not require new technology.  Plotting information on maps has been around for many years.  So what is new?  There is so much more information available on the Internet these days.  Government municipalities are posting vast quantities of information online for the public to reference.  Geo-spatial Information Systems and GPS devices are readily available for anyone to start gathering information. Google Maps allows nearly anyone to aggregate data and create a map overlay and post it online.

So what is in the future with this kind of technology.  More reports, I hope, like the one from Kansas State.  Teach us about our surroundings in ways we have never seen or considered before.  Compare and contrast regions and cultures.  Visually stun us with color coded maps that help us understand more about ourselves and others.

Let's ponder now some very practical uses of these kinds of reports and applications.  If you are new to a city and want to buy a home and raise a family, how can you quickly judge the quality of the neighborhoods?  You can do what we did when we first moved to Boise, Idaho ten years ago - we went to the Starbuck's website to see where they located their stores.  At the time there were only 2 Starbuck's in all Idaho.  We checked out both neighborhoods and moved to one of them.  Now there are 18 in Boise alone so that technique is less useful today.

Wouldn't it be nice to simply pull up a map on your iPhone and check out SAT scores by neighborhood?  Then overlay that map with crime statistics, income levels, restaurants per capita, churches per capita, home prices by square feet, average age, accidents per neighborhood, number of people moving in verses out of a region, etc.  Those kind of stats plotted on maps that are available in mobile software applications could help you quickly identify locations that meet your family's criteria.

Mobile software applications like those described above offer tremendous value.  The stats are available.  Google maps is awaiting.  All we need is more clever university students and some venture capital.


More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict serves as the Senior Vice President, Solutions Strategy, at Regalix, a Silicon Valley based company, focused on bringing the best strategies, digital technologies, processes and people together to deliver improved customer experiences, journeys and success through the combination of intelligent solutions, analytics, automation and services. He is a popular writer, speaker and futurist, and in the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries. He has over 32 years of experience working with strategic enterprise IT solutions and business processes, and he is also a veteran executive working with both solution and services companies. He has written dozens of technology and strategy reports, over a thousand articles, interviewed hundreds of technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries.