Life On Earth
Want To Rat Out Your Neighbor? There's An App For That
In a feat that would be described by some as a great example of crowdsourcing innovation and an example police state-ism by others, West Virgina has launched a Suspicious Activity Reporting Application for iOS and Android, developed by the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and the West Virginia Intelligence Fusion Center.
This has a number of advantages over a normal phone call, such as the ability to transmit GPS-tagged picture data. The authorities can't be everywhere at the same time, but having information is vital. There is also the obvious lack of automated switchboards, which slow down the whole process considerably. A typical smartphone offers a lot more ways to transfer information than a simple phone call, so an app like this is pretty much the next logical evolutionary step after anonymous tip lines.
As convenient as this sounds, this will require careful and efficient management on the part of the authorities. Law enforcement agencies do not want to have their databanks flooded with pictures of dogs off a leash and other trivial matters, so there will have to be a system to somehow filter the incoming content. Anonymity also has the disadvantage of being a very useful tool for abuse by feuding neighbors and such.
Some might call this innovative, some may call this oppressive. It's purely a matter of opinion, but big parts of our lives are now moving to the smartphone, so it only seems natural.
By Denis Ivanov
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