A heat map from Walk Score shows the hot spots in Seattle for crime. The South Lake Union area, home to Amazon, is outlined in blue.

Some city streets are safer than others. And now Walk Score — best known for placing a walkability rating of 1 to 100 on homes and businesses— is looking to tell users whether they’ll get mugged, robbed or tagged in certain areas.

Beginning today, the Seattle company has introduced crime maps in three cities: Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago. Crime maps are nothing new, but Walk Score co-founder Matt Lerner says they’ve got an interesting twist on the data.

Crime in Wallingford is lower than other parts of Seattle.

“Other real estate industry crime maps simply show you that more crimes are reported where there are more people,” says Lerner. “This can be misleading since it doesn’t tell you anything about your odds of being a victim of a crime — and this can (make) cities, especially downtowns, look less safe than they really are.”

Lerner says that Walk Score’s heat maps are more compelling because they are normalizing the statistics by the number of residents and workers, and weighting by the severity of the crime.

“This allows you to accurately compare your per capita rates of being impacted by crime when you’re looking at neighborhoods,” he said.

Here’s the crime map for downtown Seattle and here’s one for South Lake Union.

bellevue-talkingLike its other services, Walk Score plans to make money through the crime maps by licensing the data to other real estate sites. To date, the Walk Score data is being used on more than 20,000 real estate sites and the company is now showing more than 10 million scores per day across its network of sites.

Now, don’t think that Walk Score is just focusing on the negative. The company also today released social tags for neighborhoods, showing off the things that are getting Tweeted the most in 3,000 neighborhoods in 200 cities across the country.

For example, in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood the words that are most frequently being used in Tweets are solstice, Paseo, Theo Chocolate and Makerhaus. In Bellevue, it is Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, Lincoln Square Cinemas and Nordstrom.

Previously on GeekWire: New Microsoft patent: Walking directions that avoid crime-ridden neighborhoods

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  • Guest

    As exciting as all this data is, and as good as the visualizations are, I really question the methodology that ranks Denny Triangle, South Lake Union, and Belltown as the top 3 neighbourhoods in Seattle. With a complete lack of community in any of these — when’s the last time a Belltownie even saw his neighbours except on Instagram? — I wouldn’t recommend Walkscore as a judge of a neighbourhood in any meaningful way.

  • 500_lb_Gorrila

    This has been tried as an app before and it didn’t take long for the graft seeking race-baiters to declare it “racist”. Just wait for it…

  • NoDuh

    Completely useless. If South Lake Union, Belltown, Denny Triangle area have so much crime, then why is Amazon building their new HQ there? Not to mention the 3-4 new luxury apartments or condos that just opened in the same area.

    Also it’s misleading for the cofounder to infer that you can determine your odds of being a victim of crime simply by looking at a heatmap. Ridiculous. Seriously go back to school and take a statistics or urban planning class.

    Maybe there’s more crime downtown because of (SHOCKER!) urban density!

    Walkscore is seriously the worst product out there: Trying to quantify the obvious. Feel free to use that as your new slogan.

    • Jen Showers

      its not an actual heat map… its a map of crime HOT spots, its not body heat or anything

  • Jason Gerard Clauss

    There isn’t a single part of Seattle that intimidates me. Your biggest risk in this city is having your car broken into.

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