I found an interesting story from the London riots in April 2011. I was amazed to find some of the most viewed and best newsclips were captured not by the London news agencies, but rather by the people on the street. In this video someone used the video camera in their mobile smartphone to capture what five years ago it would have taken a film crew and 20 pounds of equipment to accomplish. In addition, it would have taken a professional news crew minutes, if not hours, to get the video actually out to the public. This high-quality, information-rich video was obtained by a bystander lucky (or unlucky) enough to be standing there as the riots escalated from unruly protests to outright destructive chaos. When the action erupted all they had to do was reach down to their hip and pull out their phone. When they finished, they simply uploaded the videos to their social media sites and within mere seconds they were sharing their information with the world. What an undervalued resource! We now have high definition cameras everywhere. Let's consider what this means.
For the last decade, cities have invested millions mounting cameras on street corners. This is very expensive and very inefficient. The idea of expensive. hard-mounted cameras on the streets to reduce crime is not proving to be the panacea they had hoped for. But I feel the concept is sound. Street mounted cameras are very expensive and static. In order for them to work they have to be widespread. Could the solution to reducing crime include tapping this vast resource of millions of roving high definition cameras?.
Social Media is a crucial catalyst. Having a megapixel video cameras residing in the pockets of millions of people is another ingredient. These burgeoning technologies, used together, represent a tectonic shift. But these two components do not encompass the entire potential. The next hurdle faced is shifting the mindset of the population. The public at large is slow to utilize the true power of what is happening. We here see this as an untapped resource. The missing piece is How to connect information with the right people, instantly and How to encourage people to leverage this resource in new ways. How will social media leverage the now omnipresent HD video camera? How do we utilize the valuable information these roving cameras capture and then instantly connect the important information to the right people? And, of course, how to do this most efficiently?
The pervasiveness of high resolution cameras is undeniable. This video is a contemporary example of a classic social situation being fought with outdated tactics. While the police do their best facing off hand-to-hand against 100 drunk rioters for every one officer, onlookers are standing on the sidelines capturing vital information from their cameras. This information, used correctly, could be a major force multiplier for law enforcement. Remember too, this raises the bar for everyone. This technology convergence is the great equalizer. What these bystanders are capturing could also be used by the organizers of the protest and human rights groups as well. Video brings effectiveness through information. It provides indisputable knowledge and crucial information when it's most needed. All that is left is to change the mindset of the public and to narrow the duration between the capturing of the information and getting it to the people that need it.