Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Thieves Don't Like Hills

There is a theory that San Francisco criminals don't like hills. You might be able to test this hypothesis with Mapbox's new Surface API.

The Surface API includes elevation data so that you can use the API to find out the elevation of points on a map or to create an elevation chart of a walking or cycling route. However the Surface API is more than just an elevation service. It can also be used to query any data sources of your own, whether that be data of property prices, temperature, precipitation, noise level or some other geographical data.

The Mapbox blog has included a couple of example maps which use the Surface API. One of these is a Temperature and Elevation map, which allows you to compare average temperatures with elevation along a path.

The second map is a San Francisco Bicycle Theft Rate Density map. This map allows you to draw a bike route on the map and view an elevation chart of the route. If you mouse-over the elevation chart you can also see the number of reported bike thefts along the route. If you want you could use the map to check if more bike thefts take place at lower elevations than at higher elevations.

At the moment the Mapbox Surface API is in private Beta but the Mapbox blog post has a request form which you can use to request access to the API.

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