Sunday, November 02, 2008

Washington D.C. Gets Something Right (The City, Not The Feds)

The Washington Post has an article I noticed Sunday morning on the use of SMS messenging to broadcast timely crime information to local residents. I have to say, this is a great use of modern consumer technology to aide police forces in an urban environment. It's similar to the highway billboards that display traffic information most of the time and missing persons information when necessary.
I do have to admit some concerns over privacy and my big brother suspicisons. While no where near the level of social survelliance as seen in the latest Batman movie The Dark Knight, it does obviously bring to mind the idea. Even so, I think the survelliance concerns are small and something that a city can work out with opt-in registration, anonimity of informants, and police community efforts to allay resident fears as well as making actual, physical officers available for people to talk to. It's not too far of a stretch to see similar efforts enacted in other cities suffering an increase in crime, like Dallas or Detroit for instance, but don't have the available funds to increase the size of the police force. I really do like this idea.