Central American Authorities Turn to Cellphone Users to Take a Bite out of Crime

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Guatemala City, the capital of the Central American Republic of Guatemala, is one of the most crime-ridden cities on the planet. Thanks in no small part to rampant poverty, weak law enforcement infrastructure, and pervasive drug culture, residents of the city are all too familiar with crime, both that affecting property and health.

Realizing that relying on traditional means of police work wouldn’t be enough to combat the element of criminality within the city, the government of Guatemala is pushing for a new, crowd-sourced version of law enforcement based on cellphone technology. Alertos.org is a website that allows ordinary citizens to report in exhaustive detail when and where crimes happen. Using email, Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps, and text messaging, Guatemalans are able to report crimes as they happen, giving others the chance to avoid dangerous parts of the city, while giving law enforcement a helping hand in their continued fight against crime. In just the last three months, Alertos.org has facilitated the reports of nearly 500 crimes. Clearly, effectively deputizing the public is paying dividends.

Mobile Apps Evolve to Make Every Cellphone Owner a Crime-fighter
The idea of using the general public to fight crime is spreading across the world. Anywhere people have mobile devices, it seems, they also have the option to download apps that allow them to report crimes and help keep each other safe. This is the premise upon which Localcrime, an iOS exclusive app, was built. Using Twitter, Four Square, and Facebook, users can use Localcrime to map out activity as it happens, and law enforcement officials can use that data to investigate those crimes.

Part of the Continued Evolution of Mobile Technology
Mobile technology has made huge evolutionary leaps over the last decade, and if early signs are any indication, 2014 will be another great year for innovation. Korea Telecom has released designs for new mobile hardware and applications that will allow users to seamlessly stream live TV feeds directly to their mobile devices. Researchers at Belgium’s Hasselt University iMinds have invented the Paddle, a prototype mobile phone that can change shapes and functions. Inspired by Rubik’s Magic Puzzle, the phone can be morphed into a book, a bracelet, an armband and more — users will only be limited by their imaginations.

All of this to say that for the day to day consumer, how mobile is defined continues to change. As platforms continue to evolve to be more “futuristic” and consumer friendly, applications like Localcrime and those being used in Guatemala make the future seem just a little brighter for us all.

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