One of the things I did today with my time in the Community Media Lab in downtown Ypsilanti is to make an effort to learn a new digital tool. I experimented and reviewed UMapper, a web-based program that I’m feeling very optimistic about. In covering my police and court beat I write plenty of crime stories that involve either a specific location or a general area where something occurs.
Generally I like to insert links in my stories to a map showing these sort of locations. I wouldn’t say UMapper will revolutionize this process, but it’s a tool that can be applied for a larger purpose when there’s a need to show multiple locations at once. For example, if I cover a story involving a bunch of larcenies out of vehicles, instead of linking to a map location for where each individual incident I can use UMapper to enter all the addresses on one map. I’ve done this in other ways in the past such as working within the search criteria using Crime Mapping. However, one limitation of Crime Mapping is not all the law enforcement agencies in Washtenaw County use it.
I’ve tried Google’s map maker and one other before with limited success and so far UMapper seems much more intuitive while at the same time providing more options. Next time I come across something that calls for creating a map I’ll give UMapper a try and post the result.
Besides this I’m looking into following up on two very different court cases. One involves criminal sexual conduct charges against Leonardo Christian for alleged crimes in Ypsilanti. The second involves the dismissal of charges that included eavesdropping against Augusta Township Clerk Kathy Giszczak.