Spatial Patterns of Crime in Long Beach

In November of 2015, the Los Angeles Geographical Society (LAGS), continued their lecture series with a presentation by Dr. Chris Carter, a professor at Long Beach City College.  His lecture was titled: “Spatial Patterns of Crime in Long Beach Using ArcGIS Spatial Statistics Tools”.

He started off by discussing Long Beach demographics for 2015.  The population at that time was 471,210 with a diversity index of 87.8%.  The per capita income was $25,807, which matches 86% of California’s per capita income.  His crime data comes from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) and ranges from 2010-2014.  This data includes crime type, crime location by address, arrestee in combination with city by address, and victim by address.

He examined patterns of assault and battery (not including domestic/family violence), robbery (not including commercial),  burglary (not including commercial), and murder.  With this data he performed geocoding, which is the act of transforming spatial, locationally-descriptive text into a valid spatial representation.  For this he used ESRI software, specifically ArcGIS Desktop, which was one of his first tips.  Another tip he gave was that with crimes and addresses of people you need to rename/re-code points from police station and police substations.

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Gentrification and Women in STEM

In October of 2015, the Los Angeles Geographical Society (LAGS), continued their lecture series with a presentation by students from the Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights.  This was the second time students from this school presented at LAGS.  You can read about the previous year’s projects here: “Social Inequalities and GIS“.

These students were part of the Youth Participatory Action Research, a service learning project.  They had to identify a problem and research it using GIS, creating maps to outline the issue they studied.  Three different groups presented projects. Two on gentrification and one on women in STEM.

The first project discussed gentrification, stating that “there is no replacement for displacement”.  The county of LA needs 4,000 units to meet the current housing need.  Most people pay too much for rent, amounting to about 30% of their paycheck.  This leaves little left for other expense, such as food.  This is thus a real problem for the community, impacting everyone.  The average income there is below $45,000 a year and the income needed is $90,000 in order to afford the average home cost of $200,000 and maintain taking care of a family and a mortgage.  The average renting costs is about $1,500 a month, while most people make about $3,000 a month.  This them amounts to half of the monthly paycheck going towards rent alone.

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Ethnicity in Los Angeles

In September of 2015, the Los Angeles Geographical Society (LAGS), began their lecture series with a presentation by Gary Booher, a former professor at El Camino college and former president of LAGS.  His lecture was titled: “The End of the Rainbow: Ethnicity in Los Angeles”.

He began the lecture by discussing the diversity of people in California compared to the US.  California aka the “Golden State” is #1 in population with 38 million people.  It’s #3 in area after Alaska and Texas and #8 in economy with $2.3 trillion.  The US as a whole makes $18.1 trillion (the highest of any country).  China comes in second with $11.2 trillion and Japan is third with $4.2 trillion.  California’s economy is between India ($2.3) and Brazil.

Moving on to California’s population, 27% of it is foreign born while over 50% is native born.  This is the highest for both categories in 100 years.  Not many people come to California from other states (19%).  In recent years there has been a net migration of people moving out of California.  When it comes to California immigrants it’s considered a destination for migrants, mainly Spanish/Mexican.  Looking back to earlier US history, the government pushed people to move out west partially because of the Gold Rush.  There were also those who were health seekers, moving to California because of its good climate.  Some say it was the climate for health and wealth.  Railroads were selling land for this reason.  This created jobs and as it become seen as the land of plenty, more international migration occurred.

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Traveling to Tanzania

The final Los Angeles Geographical Society (LAGS) lecture for the 2014-15 year was about the famous (ok, he is to us geographers) world traveler Matt Ebiner’s trip to Tanzania.  His lecture was titled “Tanzania–from Kilimanjaro to Zanzibar”.

He started off by saying how Tanzania has a lot of dramatic nature.  His list included the following:

1. Lake Tanganyika – Second largest/deepest in the world

2. Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest

3. Wildlife – Serengeti Plain

4. Mt. Kilimanjaro – Africa’s highest peak

5. Zanzibar Island – One of the most beautiful islands in the world

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The Community Clusters of Urban L.A.

The start of the 2015 Los Angeles Geographical Society (LAGS) lectures examined Los Angeles itself.  “Delimiting the postmodern urban center: An analysis of urban amenity clusters in LA” is the title of Samuel Krueger’s lecture.  Krueger works for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and his lecture explored how the original definition of a city center is not always valid.

Downtown Los Angeles.  Image from

Downtown Los Angeles. Image from

He started off describing some drawbacks to these analyses, such as arbitrary thresholds and that analyses are often relative to an arbitrary ‘center’.  There are also problematic spatial units and a tendency to have tunnel vision when examining employment.  Employment is not only thing cities are for and this can dehumanize urban place into unnoticed space.

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Living Gated in Bahrain

While I have been too busy to blog these past few months, I still managed to make some time for attending the Los Angeles Geographical Society‘s (LAGS) free public lectures every month during the academic year.

I was able to write about the first one from last year but not the other two and the three lectures from this year, so here is the first of those missing lectures.

In October of last year, the lecture was titled “Bahrain – Between Two Seas” and given by Cal State Fullerton professor Zia Salim.  This was a fascinating lecture, in part due to the good quality presentation style by Salim.

This lecture focused on the lives of foreign workers in Bahrain who live in gated communities there.  These workers typically have white collar jobs.  Salim started off by discussing the history of the area.  The physical shape of Bahrain has changed rapidly, becoming larger due to urban development.

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Social Inequalities and GIS

The first LAGS lecture of the 2014-15 year started off with presentations by some Roosevelt High School students.  These students have been learning how to use GIS to map social inequalities, such as obesity, community gardens, PTSD and alcoholism in their local community, which is mostly minority and low income.

Other projects were also conducted by other students, involving personally relevant issues.

Image from

Image from

These students were able to make these maps thanks to two groups, which donated materials and equipment: Foundation and Environmental Science Research Institute (ESRI).

The first group who presented showed maps concerning the obesity epidemic found in Boyle Heights (BH).  The question the students asked was whether one’s economic status affected their likelihood of developing obesity.  They compared Boyle Heights with Pacific Palisades (PP), a higher income neighborhood.

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