Monday, August 17, 2009

Fighting Crime with Collective Intelligence

There has been a spike in burglary in my neighbourhood. So we had a meeting at one of the houses in my street to discuss what we can do to stay safe. The first step was to share everyones contact information with each other so that we can call each other in case there is suspicious activity in the street. I offered to set up a wiki (actually I told everyone that is is a password-protected web site that anyone can edit) and there were some nods. Some understood what I was talking about and some did not.

However as soon as I setup the wiki and sent the link out, there was a flurry of activity. Everyone corrected spellings of their names. Added pictures of unfamiliar cars parked in front of their houses and pictures of solicitors visiting the street. Then I got requests to add multiple people from the same household to add them to the wiki.  Not everyone in my street is Web 2.0 savvy. A 72 year old great grandmother attended the meeting. The youngest attendee, who of course cared for his safety and comfort, was 5 months old.

As a next step we are planning to post names and schedules of the service people who visit the street; gardeners, swimming pool maintenance people, maids and  so on. I am very glad to see collective intelligence bringing the community a bit closer and may be stop a potential crime.

I am also glad to use technology to address problems for the community. It is refreshing to not think of technology as something that we can use to increase the next quarter or next year revenue numbers.
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