CitizenObserver.com On The Watch
CitizenObserver.com is a website that encourages citizens and police to work together to solve crimes. Citizens and businesses can sign up to receive alerts from police, and provide tips; police organizations can sign up to receive the tips and dispense alerts to citizens and businesses in defined areas.
The site has an elaborate tip form to allow citizens to report people that they find suspicious. The information requested includes marks and tattoos, hangouts, known associates, and gang affiliations. You can even upload a photograph of the "suspect." The tips are submitted via another site, TipSubmit.com.
(CitizenObserver tip form [partial] for Pittsburgh, PA)
The site is currently in use by 300 law enforcement agencies in thirty states, according to Terry Halsch, president of the St. Paul, Minn.-based company. Mr. Halsch is apparently the owner of the site as well. In a 2005 New York Times article, he also suggests making your outdoor cameras accessible from the Internet, to allow anyone to watch what's happening on your street. "We're trying to bring back something of the old feeling of neighbors watching out for each other, combined with new technology," Mr. Halsch said.
A recent article on the use of the system in Pittsburgh states that it is too early to tell if it will be helpful; no arrests due to citizen participation have been reported.
Not everyone seems as happy about this site as Mr. Halsch. The site raises a variety of concerns from civil liberties and privacy advocates. On DemocraticUnderground.com, it is described as a "Big Brother type of website that allows you to report your neighbors." Site users note concerns ranging from CitizenObserver becoming a mecca for busybodies with noting better to do than watch their neighbors, to the site being a place where upper-class people with easy access to computers can report everyone else, to worries that this is yet another step towards establishing a police state in which everyone is forced to watch everyone else.
One commenter thought of the same thing I did - the similarity between this site and the police use of media in Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451. In the novel, the police are chasing Guy Montag, the novel's protagonist. The police use the parlor wall televisions (an early reference to the big screen TV you have now) to organize a group effort by the public.
"Police suggest entire population in the Elm Terrace area do as follows: Everyone in every house in every street open a font or rear door or look from the windows. The fugitive cannot escape if everyone in the next minute looks from his house. Ready!"
The doors opened...
He imagined thousands on thousands of faces peering into yards, into alleys, and into the sky, faces hid by curtains, pale, night-frightened faces, like gray animals peering from electric caves...
(From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)
The director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Pennsylvania, Vic Walczak, says "I don't have any alarm bells going off."
Read more news articles about Surveillance (with a science-fictional twist):
What do you think? Comment on CitizenObserver.com.
Thanks to Joanne98 for this story; read more at Government Innovators Network and DemocraticUnderground.com. Also, see this 2005 NY Times article (may require registration) as well as CitizenObserver.com.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/3/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...' - Manly Wade Wellman, 1938.
Cyborg DragonflEye At Your Command
'The dragonfly responded like a toy airplane, taking off and heading east...'
Bat Bot Robotic Flapping-Wing Drone
'The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...' - Roger Zelazny, 1980.
Sky Fence - A Drone-Proof Shield Created Over Prison
'There’s still a protective field over the whole thing. It volatilizes anything that tries to get through.' - Robert Silverberg, 1969.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'
Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'
SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...'
Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?
Drug Creates Real Melanin Tan
I've used them all my life...
Medical Drones Hover Like Angels Near You
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'
SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...'
How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.'
'Liquid Light' Flows Around Corners
Light as a superfluid.
Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.'
Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...'
Poli-X1 Prototype Bee Pollinator
Is there anything drones can't do?
Bake in Space Bake-Off... In Space!
'A joyous condition commenced for the cook in the electric kitchen...'
DeepMind AI Baffled By Homer Simpson, Needs Human Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off...'
Does Earth's Middle Mantle Hold Oceans Of Water?
Al Gore, you have no idea.
Vaccine Blocks Heroin High
'You're biochemically incapable of getting off...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories