Students partner with University of Illinois PD to create crime map of campus

State News

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — “It was really cool to see a group of students who really took that issue, took ownership of that issue, and wanted to come to us to create that partnership to help,” Patrick Wade, with UIPD said.

University of Illinois students now have a new way to track crime on campus. The idea came from students themselves.

Aaron Yu heard a lot about Asian American hate during the pandemic. The mathematics and computer science student decided he could do something to help, using data already available from U of I Police.

“I think anytime you have more information about crime that’s happening in your area, you can take steps to avoid it,” Wade said.

Students are heading back to U of I’s campus in a few weeks, and now they have a new safety tool.

“I definitely think, clearly, there is a need and I really think that this can help fulfill that need,” Aaron Yu said.

Aaron Yu will be a sophomore this fall. He and some teammates, including another U of I student, joined a Hack-a-Thon this summer. It’s a competition where people create software. The theme for this year’s Hack-a-Thon was connections.

“Its hard to meet with people if you don’t feel safe in public. The reason that kind of occurred to me was because as an Asian American, we’ve been hearing a lot about Asian American hate crimes and attacks,” Yu said.

Yu and his team created a crime map using the University Police’s crime log. Police track crimes like theft and battery, and now the map shows exactly where they’re happening.

“We’re always trying to keep our campus community informed of public safety issues on campus. Its just a great way to get that information out there and empowering people to protect themselves,” Wade said.

With a lot of students not being on campus last year, plus a new class coming in, police say this map can help keep students safe and know what areas see more crime.

“For me, I actually haven’t even been on campus. So I don’t recognize most of the streets so I have no idea where these are,” Yu said.

That’s why police are urging students to pay attention and use resources like this one to stay safe.

“We have a very safe campus, but its always good to know where these crimes are happening so you can either avoid those areas. If you’re going to be going through one of those areas, find a buddy to walk with, use SafeWalks, things like that,” Wade said.

UIPD says since there’s been more violence in Champaign-Urbana, they will be teaming up with Champaign and Urbana Police Departments to ensure safety for students and adding extra patrols around campus.

The other students involved in the project are:

Juyoung Choi, a physics student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Chamaign.

Illia Borzov, a computer science student at NYU.

Angel Shah, a computer engineering student at the University of Waterloo.

Peter Vandervelde, a high schooler at Proof School.

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