I watch a lot of movies in Netflix. And by far the most entertaining genre for me are thrillers and horror movies. But as I think about technology and checking in to apps like Foursquare I start to imagine, how you could gamify crime solving and investigative work. Most thrillers, horror films and the like have a crime or case to be solved, so goes my train of thought…
How about an app to solve crime by mixing game elements with traditional detective work, and ultimately crowdsourcing crime-solving. Imagine the use of a foursquare-like law-enforcement app. It would have various levels of access, civilian or to NSA / FBI type of access, or not. Let’s not complicate things, this is just an app for the right people that need it, m’Kay?
At its very basic, this app would alert a detective of a nearby clue or alert about any open cases pertinent to a situation. It may be his or her case but it doesn’t have to be. It simply needs to be open for investigation. The most common way to connect the officer or detective to the case would be via geo-location, but activity that crosses cases would / could also trigger a connection. For example maybe a crime is related to two stores in the same street, or a witness’ testimony is input and his name also comes up for another open case.
Say Detective Joe is having a cup of joe at Mary’s Diner on the corner of First and Lincoln; the radio is quiet. He can’t break his cases, they’re all tied up with a missing piece but he’s close. He’s a top guy in the department. Pulls out his phone to read his girlfriend’s txt message. She needs to talk to him about the mortgage papers. A more important alert shows up on top of his smart-phone. 3 Open cases nearby, the mortgage papers can wait.
He clicks on the alert and finds that there are three cases within 5 miles. He’s familiar with one of them, his best friend is the lead. The other two cases are listed as looking for leads and evidence. The case he’s familiar with now has 3 new leads, three suspects are listed as bring in for questioning. He knows one of the suspects from another case and so he knows where to find him and brings him in. Another alert describes a vehicle that may be involved in the case; it asks for all units to be on the lookout and report to the lead detective on the case.
This is where the app gets really cool and useful. The detective could go on to read anything about the case that is known. People’s names, addresses, testimionies, clues, tips, watch crime-scene footage, review photographic evidence, listen to interviews, etcetera. Perhaps that very same diner is owned by a key witness and Mr Joe detective would like to ask a few more questions. Maybe he sees something others missed.
This app would be geo-location based with a privilege & permissions system. Each level of permission would grant people the ability to see what they need to see and provide more input, perform further investigative or follow up work with or about the case.
This would be ideal for cold cases or cases where there may be a road-block. No urgency required, something that needs to get done but for some reason or another it hasn’t. This idea would gamify the whole thing by giving all participants an incentive for progressing towards solving the case, perhaps a department recognition. Maybe a badge, both in real life and *in the app!*. Maybe even a reward if there is one for a given case. Everybody would be on the lookout for important information and follow up work while helping each other by putting more and more eyes in more cases.
One of the key elements in this would be to open up certain clues to the public at some point. We know that police often ask for the public’s help in solving certain crimes. Why not share that information via the app so that civilians could help with cases as they do now, but all managed through the app. I bet you, if this is implemented well, it could reduce crime, and help complicated cases be solved quickly.
The app could work just as well for immediate response systems. In addition to the traditional communication systems for emergencies and urgent cases, this app would provide imagery, additional comments, immediate access to testimonies, interviews and other vital information to solving a case quickly. Historical information, local information about gangs for example, if the crime is gang related.
Much like the police alert system and the amber alert system, this system could send alerts to the app and immediately provide information about timely events like a kidnapping, major accident and similar immediate response type of situations. Operators back at home office would continue to update the case and provide notifications as the updates to the app.
This! is using technology quickly for developing police cases. Maybe I’m thinking too much CSI and Hollywood here, but the past few months, this has been a recurring idea in my head. These knuckleheads in the movies need a smart app that tells them all what each person knows. That would of course be bad for me in this case because I’d have no movie to watch, but in real life if cime solving is anything like the movies, even one bit, I bet you my idea would work.
In fact I know it would work, because I know of medical apps that are being developed to serve similar functions, instead of crime, translate that word to cases and instead of the streets of a city, translate location to the various operating rooms in an emergency room in a hospital. Imagine the complexity of managing that! Similar to police work if you think about it. Sometimes timeframes are even close!
The more and more I write about this the more I can’t imagine this doesn’t already exist, but I think it would just be cool to develop and make it the way I am thinking about it. Ok back to work, enough day dreaming.
* 48 hours is a reference to a show based on the idea that most crimes need to be solved before 48 hours pass because evidence is lost and perps get away afeter that. Generally after a case goes “luke warm” and eventually cold, the investigators need to attend to more pressing matters.