West Virginia has launched a smartphone app that's one part clever crowdsourcing and community engagement and one part sinister report-on-your-neighbor Big Brotherism. The Suspicious Activity Reporting Application is exactly what it sounds like. See something that looks like a violation of the law, no matter how insignificant? Snap a pic, tag it with GPS, and anonymously report it to the state.
Parking illegally will never be the same.
Developed as a project between the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center (yes, West Virginia has an Intelligence Fusion Center), the app--available in both Apple iOS and Android flavors--is being touted by the state as an improved means of community policing. The authorities can't be everywhere all the time, and the more information they have the better they can serve their citizens.
But it's easy to see how this could also spiral quickly into a mechanism for a lot of municipal and state waste, with police officers spending their hours checking out instances of dogs off the leash, neighbors parked in front of fire hydrants, and other trivial matters that don't necessarily require police action. The fact that it allows tipsters to remain anonymous is also a bit troubling. No one wants to be known as the neighborhood snitch, but without any kind of accountability it seems like an easy avenue by which feuding neighbors or angry lovers or anyone else with a grudge can drag the state--needlessly and wastefully--into their disputes.
Then again, it's the next logical technological progression from the anonymous tip lines that already exist in many municipalities and states. And it certainly makes it easier to report true violations of the law or threats to the public welfare. Dialing up the local switchboard and trying to navigate the bureaucracy with a touchtone phone is an activity no one relishes. Though it goes without saying, the comments section below is wide open and ready to record your feelings on this, fellow citizens.
I think this is a great idea! And I don't think it would take too much time away from the officers if it's managed well. Just as with dispatch, someone (or some program) would be sorting the reports in order of importance and "credibility" (the more reports on the same violation from different users would move it higher in the list). Also, if the officers have access to these reports via Map display, they could simply see what is happening in their area instead of driving across town for a single violation. I hope they introduce this system in my area, I would love to be a beta tester.
I think I'm going to move out of the country now
-What we think we become-
Seems to me this has constitutional violations written all over it. While private parties are not subject to 4th Amendment Requirements, I can see how this (though probably not with the current Supreme Court, but at least in some of the circuit courts) may lead to a private party being treated as a state actor, thus subjecting them to constitutional requirements. This app is tantamount to police enlisting the help of private citizens to get around warrant requirements. I feel as though we're getting closer and closer to a police state.
Before long every American will be a person of interest.
This is great! Application like this is very helpful for our daily lives. Most of application right now is about safety measure maybe because crime rate is instantly increasing. Just like this application I found out lately called the Panic Button that's also works on smart phones like Black Berry, i Phone and Android. I subscribe this app to find out if it is really working. And I find interesting about this application because it has 24/7 Emergency Response Call Center they will be able to locate the subscriber through GPS location and whenever emergency occurred they can route the call to the nearest 911. Well to find out more about this application. You can visit their website safekidzone.com