Ever wish your laptop could do more than just order you up a pair of shoes? How about using it to fight crime? Victims of crimes in Brazil can now log onto Wikicrimes and pinpoint the exact intersection of the criminal attack. Created by a Brazilian professor, the site asks contributors to provide details such as whether the perpetrator was armed or whether a third party can confirm the incident.
The unavailability of police data in Brazil has prompted the public to warn others by amplifying the power of word of mouth with the internet. To see how Google aims to stop sexual predators, read more.
While Wikicrime is using the web to prevent crime, Google is making it more difficult for sexual predators to use the web to exploit children. Google developed software that will allow analysts at the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to sort and identify web images that contain images of child sex abuse victims. The engineers developed the program on "20% time" — Google's program that allows employees to dedicate that amount of time to projects they chose.
While technology has made it easier to perpetrate crimes like child pornography, it's reassuring to know that companies like Google are not sitting still. Should they be doing more?
As for the Brazilian Wikicrimes — what use does reporting crime to the internet serve? Will crime be perpetuated in an area labeled "unsafe"?