"These riots were not about poverty," England's Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday. But thanks to publicly available data, free services like Google Maps and Web collaboration, statements like that are now more fact-checkable than ever. Or at least the discourse can get more complicated easier than before.
London's data-loving Guardian newspaper did just that this morning, mapping out the data about riot locations and the home addresses of people arrested in the riots. Those data were then put against socioeconomic information regarding particular neighborhoods. The conclusion? At least in some parts of the UK, it seems pretty clear that riot participants came from impoverished areas and acted in less poor places.
Liverpool University urban planning lecturer Alex Singleton looked at the data and concluded:
- The majority of areas where suspects live are deprived - and 66% of them got poorer between 2007 and 2010, when the last survey was published
- 41% of suspects live in the 10% most deprived places in England
I think this is a fascinating way to look at a major news event! Above, a map of Manchester, where the correlation between riot arrestee adresses and poverty was particularly strong. You know the drill, though: correlation can not be equated with causation. White dots are the areas of conflict, red dots where those arrested live.