I can still remember the news station back home that would always end a broadcast with a call to action, saying “If you see news, visit our website or call us at 319-555-5555” (or something to that effect). We’ve come a long way since then. Now, our civic duties can be fulfilled right from our smart phones. With a new smart phone application, select cities are now enabling its constituents to report “potholes, graffiti and other issues directly to their city.”
“After being downloaded onto a smart phone, the software…allows a citizen to take pictures of a problem and with a click of a button, e-mail it directly to city officials with the exact coordinates of where the picture was taken.”
Now I could get into the privacy issue around “the exact coordinates where the picture was taken,” but I’m going to leave that for someone else to dispute. My concern lies with the struggle between fulfilling our civic duty to report the news and the safety hazards this may cause.
I think this application is a great promoter in getting people involved in their cities and towns and by allowing citizens to report what affects them on daily basis is what empowers people to make changes. This I find revolutionary and exciting, however, I don’t think the circumstances around this ‘app’ have been clearly thought through.
They use the example of reporting a pothole, (which I think many would argue is a great thing; save people from the many annoying car rides along a certain Sheridan Rd.) but how are people supposed to take a picture and send it via their phones, if in most cases, their driving? Seems a bit ironic since the purpose of the application is to correct something that may endanger drivers, bikers, etc., don’t you think? Can it be said that this poses a safety hazard like texting? Even in the case of graffiti, many people would notice this while driving, so to exercise your civic ability to inform, are they putting themselves, as well as others, in danger?
While the intention behind this application is commendable (I think it’s hard to dispute that), I’m not convinced this is thoroughly thought through. What do you guys think?