On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, the UCSB forum on spatial thinking presents

Spatial Crime Patterns vs. Safety Perception: Mixed Experiments


Alina Ristea

Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI)
School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs
Northeastern University, Boston

11:30 a.m. (PST) Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Zoom* :

The occurrence of crime depends on a multitude of factors, namely crime attractors or generators, and it shows high spatiotemporal complexity. This presentation is targeting two opposite crime perspectives: (1) objective crime, and (2) subjective crime—perceived crime safety—fear of crime. This work contributes to the research on environmental crime analysis and prediction by pursuing two objectives. The first goal is to uncover spatial relationships between crime occurrences and nearby social media activity, whereas the second goal is to estimate the possible influence of social media posts on crime prediction models. The focus of this part of the presentation is on sporting events, suggesting that spatial crime patterns and people’s social posts are similar on event days and more dissimilar on non-event days. The subjectivity in crime is captured through the lenses of fear of crime. This project is an approach to amalgamate the knowledge about safety features already studied in the urban environment. The primary goal of this work is in using a fusion methodology for integrating a systematic video data acquisition, geographical storytelling, and human physiological measurements to build upon the analysis of the urban environment through a GIS-based platform. The three main objectives of this project are: (1) to test the compatibility of data acquisition through mixed technologies; (2) to extract safety information from the data acquired using mixed methods and to implement it in a GIS-based model; (3) to compare official crime data reported to the police, urban blight indicators, and people’s perceived safety, extracted from the mixed-method approach.

Alina Ristea
is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI), part of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, Northeastern University. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Geoinformatics from the University of Salzburg, Austria (2019), entitled Integration and Evaluation of Social Media in Crime Prediction Models. Her background studies are in the domains of geography, cartography, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Ristea’s research interests are highly interdisciplinary, and include interdisciplinary level, focusing among others on combining elements of GIScience, urban informatics, neighborhood effects, spatiotemporal crime analysis, social media mining, predictive analytics, and safety perception. She is a guest editor for the International Journal of Geo-Information (IJGI), by MDPI: Special Issue Urban Crime Mapping and Analysis Using GIS. In addition, she is a member of the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) and the American Association of Geographers (AAG). Among others, Ristea won a Marshall Plan Scholarship (February–May 2019), from the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation, for a research stay at Louisiana State University (LSU).


ThinkSpatial - Alina Ristea


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The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Emmanuel Papadakis ( to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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ThinkSpatial: Alina Ristea