As we get closer to hearing the final decision from the Ferguson grand jury, Missouri has been declared a state of emergency. This means the National Guard troops can be deployed, and as we saw this past summer, that doesn’t always mix well with peaceful protests. As the community protested police brutality and demanded justice for the shooting of Mike Brown, they were met with an army of officers with tanks and military grade weapons. This conflict was seen by the world, thanks to Twitter and Live Streams. Technology brings accountability to those who aren’t used to having their actions scrutinized on the world stage.
With the potential of additional protests looming, now seems like a good time to highlight a few ways technology can serve as reinforcement for those on the front lines.
I came across an app specific to protesting called Legal Observer. The app was created to “act as a witness to hold police accountable for their actions”. It was created in 2011 during the Occupy Movement. This seems really important considering that the media was given limited access to the previous conflicts in Ferguson.
Features of this app include the ability to input key information about incidents with the police. So, app users would be able to do a profile on the officer that includes name, badge number, & weapon they used (if any). Additional options include detailing the interaction further, adding photos or video, as well as emailing all this information after it has been collected. Which is very important if police officers are confiscating phones. The disclaimers related to Legal Observer are tied to local laws. Additional information regarding the laws are included within the app. So, I definitely suggest you check that out first.
“Technology brings accountability to those who aren’t used to having their actions scrutinized on the world stage.”
Another app I came across was called I’m Getting Arrested, which gets right to the point. It was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street era as well. The functionality lets the user broadcast a custom text message in the event that they are arrested. The long-press button within the app and their pre-entered message is sent to the appropriate people.
Legal Observer is available for iOS and Android. The I’m Getting Arrested app only seems to be available for Android at this time.
This digital emergency card app puts important information on your phone’s lock screen in the case of a medical emergency. This includes basic identifying information as well as medications, allergies, blood type, and insurance information. Users can also register within the app to have your safety profile recognizable to 9-1-1 systems.
You might have heard about this app. It is the winner of the 2011 White House and HHS “Apps Against Abuse” Technology Challenge. It is described as a way for friends to keep track of each other in threatening situations. Even though it was initially designed for college students. But it is clear how this can apply to other life situations. Features include the ability to request a ride home, SMS text advice, and GPS tracking.
Information is power and apps like these provide processes for what can often be chaotic situations.