GEOG 586
Geographic Information Analysis

Project 2: Exploratory Data Analysis and Descriptive Statistics in R



This week, we covered some key concepts important for conducting research and analysis. Now, it is time for you to put this information to use through some analysis. In this week's project, you will be analyzing some point data describing crimes in St. Louis, Missouri and creating a descriptive analysis of the data. Next week, you will build on this analysis by using some spatial point pattern statistics with the same dataset to look at the spatial patterns of crime in more detail.

To carry out this week's analysis, you will use RStudio and several packages in R. The assignment has been broken down into several components.

You will analyze the data and familiarize yourself with R by copying and pasting the provided R code from Lesson 2 into RStudio. In some cases, you will want to modify this code to analyze additional variables or produce different graphs and charts that you think will help with your analysis. As you work through the analysis, make some informal notes about what you are finding.

The outputs generated by running these analyses provides evidence to answer the questions listed at the bottom of this page. Once you have completed your analysis and obtained the different statistical and graphical outputs, use this evidence to create a more formal written report of the analysis.

Project Resources

You need an installation of R and RStudio, to which you will need to add the packages listed on a subsequent page of these instructions. 

You will also need some data. You will find a data archive to download ( in the Lesson 2 materials in Canvas. If you have any difficulty in downloading the data, please contact me.

This archive includes the following files:

  • Crime data files for St Louis: crimeStLouis20132014b.csv, crimeStLouis20132014b_agg.csv
  • Boundary of St Louis data file (shapefile): stl_boundary_ll.shp

How to Move Forward with the Analysis

As you work your way through the R code on the following pages of the project instructions, keep the following questions in mind. Jotting down some notes related to each of them will help you to synthesize your findings into your project report.

Discuss Overall Findings

  1. What types of crime were recorded in the city?
  2. Was there a temporal element associated with each of the crimes?
  3. How did the occurrence of crimes changes between the years?
  4. Where did crimes take place? Was there a particular spatial distribution associated with each of the crimes? Did they take place in a particular part of the city?
  5. What additional types of analysis would be useful?

Descriptive Statistics

  1. What type of distribution does your data have?
  2. What is a typical value in this dataset?
  3. How widely do values in the dataset vary?
  4. Are there any unusually high or low value in this dataset? (e.g., outliers)

Visualizing the Data

  1. Map the data: What is spatial distribution of crimes?
  2. Create graphs:
    1. Of the crimes in the dataset, is there a crime that occurs more than others?
    2. Is there a month when crimes occur more than others?
    3. Have crimes increased or decreased over time?

Summary of the Minimum Project 2 Deliverables

To give you an idea of the work that will be required for this project, here is a summary of the minimum items you will create for Project 2. 

  • Create necessary maps, graphics, or tables of the data. Include in your written report any and all maps, graphics, and tables that are needed to support your analysis. 
  • The analysis should help you present the spatial patterns of crime types across the city as well as what evidence exists showing any temporal trend in crime overall and for individual crime types.

NOTE: When you have completed the project, please submit your writeup to the Canvas assignment for this lesson.


Please use the 'Week 2 lesson discussion' forum to ask for clarification on any of these concepts and ideas. Hopefully, some of your classmates will be able to help with answering your questions, and I will also provide further commentary there where appropriate.