South African Develops Community Policing App to Fight Crime
Cape Town local Mogamad Yusuf Isaacs has developed a community policing app which is available for free download on the Android platform.
The app, called “CitySpy” can be used in crime prevention where information about crimes is communicated between community members, as well as between police and community members. It attempts to streamline communication by merging community policing strategies with location-based social networking strategies.
“Having been affected by crime on a regular basis, I thought to myself there must be a way that a smartphone app can be used to reduce crime,” says Isaacs, who adds that he spend only R358.65 to build the app.
CitySpy allows users to report crimes and provide relevant details to other users within 2km. For example, Isaacs explains, a mall is being robbed and the perpetrators flee the scene in a red car. A witness to this crime can submit a report on the app, giving details such as the perpetrators’ description, picture and details of the vehicle they fled in.
Everyone within 2km will then be notified of the incident (hopefully a police officer that is using the app too) and if any of the notified users spot suspects matching the description, they can then report – on the app – that they have spotted them, he adds.
“Everyone within 2km will then be notified again, along with the new location of the perpetrators. This process continues until the perpetrators are caught or no one spots them anymore.”
Social Hot Topics
The app also serves as a social network where users can discuss anything related to their city. Isaacs notes the reason for building CitySpy as a social network is because he noticed a pattern emerging on other social networking sites.
He points out that quite frequently, there are “hot topics” in his city, where seemingly everyone is talking about one thing, be it police brutality, cyclist road rage, mountain fires, or even the opening of Parliament. Instead of the conversation being scattered all over social networks, CitySpy offers a centralised location for these topics to be discussed, he explains.
“The conversation is also easily accessible without having to search through your social network’s news feed to get the information you are looking for.”
Other features include saving vehicle information on the CitySpy profile for easy reporting in the event that it gets stolen or hijacked; filtering posts to show only robberies, traffic incidents, hijackings, stolen vehicles, shootings, missing persons, missing pets or discussions; and the ability to comment on other users’ posts.
Isaacs notes for now there are no plans to make the app available to other app stores but it is a possibility in the future.
CitySpy is not the first community policing app to be developed in SA but is the first to use community policing in this way, he claims. “One app, for example, only notifies people that live in an area that a crime has occurred in their area and it does this via e-mail or SMS. CitySpy notifies everyone within 2km that a crime has occurred close to them and it does this via push notifications.”