A new app alerts you of po­lice ac­tiv­ity nearby – so that you can run out and catch it on video for all to see.

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - How Your World Works -

THE APP IS CALLED CIT­I­ZEN, and for now it’s avail­able only in New York City. Ruddy Roye, a pho­to­jour­nal­ist and for­mer AP stringer, fol­lowed Cit­i­zen’s alerts for a week this sum­mer and recorded the re­sults for Pop­u­lar Me­chan­ics. Here is his re­port.

Ninety per cent of the re­ported crimes were rob­beries. I saw bi­cy­cle thefts, a deli be­ing robbed. There were a lot of gun­shot re­ports, although some turned out to be fire­works. It was sad to see how many do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases popped up – at least 15 each day. Some­times the crimes were over too quickly. Once I got an alert that there was a rob­bery with a weapon re­ported 400 me­tres from me. I got there right away, but an of­fi­cer told me that the guy was long gone. An­other time, an ac­ci­dent hap­pened a few blocks from me. I raced over and it had al­ready been cor­doned off with yel­low cau­tion tape. I was able to cap­ture a four-minute video of an ac­ci­dent vic­tim be­ing loaded into the am­bu­lance (right). At a pre­vi­ous scene I had some trou­ble with the record­ings. When you hit the record but­ton, noth­ing changes to let you know you’re record­ing. So I kept press­ing the but­ton. Even­tu­ally some­one from the app emailed and asked if I was hav­ing prob­lems, be­cause they could see that the videos were short. You have to just press the but­ton and know it’s record­ing. The app works best when some­thing hap­pens close to you; if you’re in your house and a crime is re­ported out­side your win­dow. In that way, cit­i­zen jour­nal­ists have the po­ten­tial to be­come im­por­tant new out­lets if the pro­fes­sion­als can’t get there in time.

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