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The use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help the police with crime prevention

Societal outreach and impact

"Here, we as researchers can contribute through scientific working methods and analyses of underlying factors and living conditions. By using evidence-based methods, we can complement the authorities' working methods and thereby provide an improved situational overview for decisions on the preventive measures that need to be implemented" /Nicklas Guldåker

Between 2017 and March 2023, there were 1810 shootings and 537 detonations in Sweden. The police assesses that me most of these shootings and detonations are linked to crime, particularly drug trafficking. These shootings and detonations create insecurity in society and among residents in the affected neighborhoods. Many of these shootings and detonations occur in or can be related to areas that the police together with municipalities identify as vulnerable areas.

Watch the film about Nicklas Guldåker's research and the Strategic map

To be able to effectively counteract and prevent this crime trend and to effectively prioritise and allocate their resources, the police and other authorities need a good situational picture of the underlying factors in different geographical areas in Sweden.

Researchers at Lund University and Malmö University, together with the Swedish Police Authority, have developed a digital and national map showing people's living conditions within 250 metre squares in Swedish urban areas. The strategic map is based on an aggregation and indexation of 6 different socio-economic variables. These variables are number of persons living per square meter of living space, employment rate, income level, single parents with children still living at home, foreign background, and pre-upper-secondary education.  These variables have been shown to have statistical and significant correlations with different types of crime.

The map tool has been used by the Police Authority since 2019 and is considered a valuable tool in many ways.

Gerell, M., Puur, M., & Guldåker, N. (2022). Swedish conditions? Characteristics of locations the Swedish police label as vulnerable. Nordic Journal of Urban Studies. Pp. 40-62 

Guldåker N, Hallin P-O, Nilvall K, Gerell M. (2021) Crime Prevention Based on the Strategic Mapping of Living Conditions. ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information. 10(11):719. Special Issue Geographic Crime Analysis.  

Guldåker, N. & Hallin, P-O (2020) Livsvillkor och strategisk lägesbild i Gerell, M, Hallin, P.O., Nilvall, K. & Westerdahl, S. (Reds.) Att vända utvecklingen – Från utsatta områden till trygghet och delaktighet, Malmö University Publications in Urban Studies, MAPIUS 26. 

Guldåker N., Kronkvist, K., Persson, V., Gustavsson, O., Lindbergh, J. & Niedomysl, T. (in review) Fear of crime, crime and living conditions – a case study of Uppsala. Submitted to Nordic Journal of Criminology. October 2023. 

Martin Hultberg Tarantino

'Locally, we work with the strategic map at several different levels. Partly through our work when we look at situational overviews. That is, when we follow developments in an area. There we can benefit from the strategic map to see where we need to prioritise our activities here and now, but also for some time to come". /Martin Hultberg Tarantino, Municipal Police