SpotCrime crime-mapping startup surpasses 1M unique website visitors - Technical.ly Baltimore

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May 22, 2013 10:55 am

SpotCrime crime-mapping startup surpasses 1M unique website visitors

The crime map of Baltimore, where SpotCrime is based, receives about 60,000 unique visitors per month.

A SpotCrime map of shootings in Baltimore in 2008.

(Screenshot)

Crime-mapping website SpotCrime.com surpassed one million unique visitors in April.

In Baltimore, where the crime-mapping startup is based in the downtown neighborhood, the number is appreciably smaller: just 60,000 unique visitors on average per month.

“Baltimore still does a decent job of making their [crime] data available,” said SpotCrime founder Colin Drane by e-mail. “We’d like more details and we’d like it faster, but they are far ahead of many cities in the U.S. in terms of being open with their data.”

But SpotCrime, responsible for sending out nearly five million crime alert e-mails each month to subscribers nationwide, is poised for rapid growth of another kind.

Seven TV stations under the helm of Hunt Valley-based and SpotCrime media partner¬†Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is set to own more TV stations across the U.S. than any other company, already use SpotCrime’s mapping widget on their corresponding websites and have station branding on those e-mails SpotCrime sends out.

“We are hoping to expand with [Sinclair],” said Drane.

As Technically Baltimore reported, SpotCrime.com works by scraping crime data from free resources, like the OpenBaltimore portal. The startup doesn’t charge for use or access of the data it collects, but instead makes money through the advertising collected when people click on SpotCrime widgets embedded on other websites.

With Sinclair’s expansion, SpotCrime stands to make more money so long as TV stations’ websites keep embedding the SpotCrime.com widget. Drane said that SpotCrime is profitable, but that the “numbers are not significant: less than $1 million.”

SpotCrime also has a partnership to power the crime data of family communications app Life360, which has more than 30 million customers, Drane said.

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As for the growth of the startup itself: Drane now employs three people full-time.

“We are a for-profit company, but I run this hobby like a nonprofit,” he said.

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Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist outside Washington, D.C. He's written for Wired, Backchannel, Popular Science, Fortune, the Washington Post Magazine, the Atlantic and elsewhere.

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