Visualising Data – Boroughs of London Crime Figures

This part of the Visual System project at University I was asked to visualise data/statistics and look if there is any relationships between two different sets of information. The way the information is displayed and visualized has to be relevant  to the data your are using and have a meaning behind it you can not just do something for the sake of it because it looks good.

The only constraint about this project was that we have to have 3 different parameters/categories or types of information to compare and contrast we are not restricted in the way we go about it it can either be print or screen based. I prefer projects that dont have many constraints because it allows you to think more about the idea rather than want you can or cannot do.

Before Icould draw out my own design objectives I had to pick a topic to visualise it could be anything from types of fruit to the child soldiers in africa. This is where I had problems because there are so many ideas and topics to choose from i spent about 1 week just trying to think of an idea. I found myself going around in circles and time was starting to run out and we had to have visuals in two days.

Below are some of the ideas I came up with :

  • Language
  • Racial Equality
  • United Kingdom Electoral Voting
  • Relationship between Wars and Banking recessions
  • Crime Figures in London
  • Genres of Music
  • Aids/HIV in Africa

Out of all of these Ideas I choose “Crime Figures in London” because it is something that I am interested in as I have grown up in London. I also knew it would not be hard to gather the information because the Police HAVE to make the data public.

My design objectives are :

  • Design a poster that is visually engaging
  • Compare data from the London Boroughs  and illustrate which borough is high in crime
  • Draw conclusions from data for example which type of crime is high in a certain part of London etc…

Luckily for me it was not hard to gather my data for the Crime FIgures in London all I had to do was go on the Met Police Website and download it from there.


Crime Figures –

When I was scanning over the data I released that it will be to much to analyse and visually show on a page so i decided to cut it down. For each of the years there is 9 different crimes and each of those crimes have sub-crimes which they fall into. The biggest was Theft and handling which had 9 other sub-crimes which was a lot of data. To make things much easier for me I cut down the number if different types of crimes to 6 and for them only to have 2 different sub categories. I choose the 6 different crimes on the basis that they affect people on a day to day basis and probably people would want to know about them more.

The six chosen where  Violence Against a Person, Sexual Offences Robbery, Theft, Fraud and Drugs.

For me the hard part  was how I was going to visually put all this data onto a piece of paper and make sense of it all, it has to be aesthetically pleasing but also work and have a meaning behind it. The only other time I have designed a piece of Visual Data was when I created the “British Army Structure” but that was simple.

I bought this book called “Data Flow 2”  and it has some really amazing work that helped me to visualise how I would get my idea on to paper

This video proper it helped me understand  more about Visual Data and how it is made up it also showed me another way of thinking very inspirational. All that data by itself would be just boring because he put it into context by using shapes and colour it was more meaningful and people really see the money being used by US Government.

I also looked at this site for ideas.

Back to basics I went out and bought myself a sketchbook, pencils and a rubber to start designing my idea. Im one of those people who have to draw something on paper before  I start working in any design programe thats just me!!!

This first idea is a a map formed in the shape of a human target with different levels of crime intensity inside it. The middle of the target is high level of crime and the outside is less level of crime. I will use the data from the met police I collected to calculate which London Borough goes where. This idea could be expanded by comparing the data to another place like Manchester or somewhere else around the world.

It is really faint but the idea above is like a tally chart. One side is the crimes of 2000 and the other side is 2008 icons/ drawings will represent each of the crimes for example for “Robbery” it will be a balaclava and for “Violence” it will simply be a pair of boxing gloves. With the data on the paper you will be able to see if the crime rate has gone up or down between 2000 and 2008. With this idea I wanted it to look a bit childish and not so hard hitting and take a different approach to it.

Simple idea to use the map of London which will be central to the page. All the boroughs will be listed around it in a circle. Every borough will have a crime comparison between the years 2000 and 2008. The only problem i can see with this really is the space issue because i have a lot of data to put down.


In all honesty I left this stage of the process late so I only had about a week and a half to come up with something that would be a suitable to my data. I did not really choose to develop this idea. The plan was to mock up all three ideas using Indesign but i spent to much time on the London map idea and it was coming close to the deadline so i just had to go along with this idea and hope it turns out well.

The first thing I need to do was design a structure/system that was suitable enough so I can input the data that I have. I decided to split up the information one side to be 2000 and the other side 2008. This is a simple way so you can clearly see the comparison of crime figures between them. As another interesting visual point I decided to add the map of the corresponding borough to the top of the table as a flat colour so it adds another dimension to it. So the reader doesn’t have to calculate the figures to see if the crime has gone up our down I have done it already by placing a green/red arrow to show if the crime has gone up or down.

The image above is the first concept I came up with using InDesign. The main thing I liked about this how the information is clearly laid out which makes it legible to read , you can scan across the image with ease the only problem is that there is hardly any space to add other information/comparisons so I will need to think about its composition. How can i re order the information that its still easy to read but saves space.


I turned the page to landscape formate that gave me more space than it being portrait. I decided to place the different boroughs around the map of London but i was still not happy on how it looked.

I refereed back to my research notes and found this image. There is a lot of data that needs to be displayed and the designer picked to place it in a circular formation which still makes all the text readable it all looks contained and unified.

Now that the information of the 32 boroughs of London is in a circular formation the white space surrounding the circular data makes it look balanced and neutral, there is also a lot more space than before so i can input more data if its necessary . The next data I want to input is the total amount of different crimes from 2000 and map them against 2008 and i did calculations as you can see below.

Total number of crimes 2000 and 2008

Click images for larger view

The first place i thought of where to put the data was inside the circle. I wanted to keep the same circular formation so I used bars and lines to express the numbers inside the circle. Looking at the first design with the data inside the circle it is not very clear and its confusing for example the line that shows the total number of drugs in 2000 is bigger than the line for fraud in the same year when the total number of crime for Fraud is 83,453 and for Drugs is 23,629. The second design was bolder with a key so you can see which crime belonged to which bar.  I used a dart board like idea so depending on the number of the crime it will full into it that group. The crime comparison was still unclear so i had to re design it again.

Click image for larger view

I decided to put the crime comparison out side the circle so its not just confined inside it, it also gave me more space to play about with as you can see. I was able to add a scale either side of the circle and the lines are now accurate than before. It is now easier for the reader to see the crime comparison between 2000 and 2008.


My final design shows the boring excel data from the Met Police in a clean cut and easy to read manner. I changed the format of the page into portrait so I can make the circular image bigger when it was landscape there was hardly any space at the bottom for the graph.

I added the graph above onto the poster to show if there is a relationship between crime rate and major events that happened in London. From the graph you can see that crime peaked when there was the 911 terrorist attacks for the next following years it dipped down is this because the police where more alert to any illegal activity and clamped down on it.

Looking at my poster i noticed a slight problem some of the borough crime data is upside down so it would be hard to read it so I had to devise a way so that it is readable. Thats when I had the idea of making the circle of the London Boroughs moveable from everything else on the page.

The images above show how the spinning mechanism works just simply a Vaseline lid glued on to card in a way that it can still spin on its point.


This is a rough mock up of the final design. The changes i need to make is remove the black tab because people got confused and thought it related to the outer lines but it was included so you can turn the circle.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 23 other followers

Twitter @KudzD


%d bloggers like this: