Technology has given rise to a host of new crimes, ranging from hacking to 419 scams to increasingly sophisticated acts of identity theft. Even so, that’s no reason to give up your laptop; technology is also being used to prevent crimes in new and exciting ways, both here in Miami and beyond.
Unless you’re a local news junkie who is reading police reports 24 hours a day, you’re unlikely to hear of every crime that’s going on in your neighborhood. So if you’re looking to buy a home, plan your child’s walking route to school, or organize your next neighborhood watch meeting, what do you do? How do you keep track of the number, type, and severity of the crimes committed in a very specific area?
Modern mapping technology is the answer. A quick click will take you to Miami’s crime map. Zoom out for a broader look at the entire county, or zoom in for a more granular, street-by-street view.
Click on an incident (color coded for ease of use), and it will tell you the date, time, location, and type of crime, as well as the ID number specific to the incident. Not only is this a user-friendly way for individuals and groups to keep an eye on the neighborhoods where they live and work, but it can help track crime trends in an area over time.
Not all crime fighting technology is implemented solely by law enforcement agencies, however. Apps like Torch put that power solidly in the hands of community members and empower them to collaborate with a wide variety of agencies in making their communities safer places to live, work, and play.
Miami was the first city to implement Torch on a wide scale. The app allows residents to report crimes and suspicious activity anonymously, receive local safety updates, and use the media available to them (such as photos and videos) in a way that is helpful to the community.
It’s become an integral part of more and more neighborhood watch groups, schools, faith communities, and more. Using the technology many residents are already familiar with, it provides ordinary people with the power to do something about crime in their own neighborhoods.
Social media isn’t just for selfies and cat videos. With crimes (including old, cold cases) increasingly being solved with the help of individuals on the internet, it makes sense that police departments are turning to social media as a way to reach more of the public. With around 71% of internet users belonging to at least one social network, law enforcement agencies of all at the local, regional, and national level have all gotten on board.
The Miami Police Department has a Facebook page where they alert residents to the latest trends in local crime and share information about how to prevent it, as well as a Twitter account. Additionally, Miami-Dade’s Police Department not only has a presence on both social networks, but a Twitter account in Spanish as well. Want to hear the latest from law enforcement in your area? All you have to do is log in.
Cell Phone Tracking
The use of technology in preventing crime can sometimes be controversial, as seen in the ongoing conversation about cell phone tracking. Cell site simulator devices are used to track information from cellular phones, including who is being called or texted and for how long.
Miami-Dade has had this technology, designed to use phone data to track down kidnappers, terrorists, and drug rings, since 2003. While litigation on the appropriate use of these devices by state and local police forces, they continue to be a powerful example of the ways in which technology impacts policing and crime prevention.
Today’s technology means you don’t need to be a superhero to fight crime.
Be a part of making your community a better place. Download Torch for Android or Apple today.