Hyperlocal maps

KHOU crime mapHow can you share data quickly and easily online? KHOU-TV in Houston, Texas, used simple PDF maps. Reporter Mark Greenblatt says in The IRE Journal that his station didn’t have time to buy mapping software or train the Web staff to use it, so they created PDF files of neighborhood maps showing where aggravated assaults occurred in 2006. Users could link to these “hot spots” from a city map with embedded links, created in Macromedia Dreamweaver.

Almost immediately, we found out just how hungry our viewers were for local information like this. Our Web traffic for these searchable maps outpaced the number of hits a standard news story receives by more than 1,000 percent.”

The station also posted Excel files so users could see incidents by zip code, and zip codes ranked by number of crimes. Useful stuff, easily done.