The 109th Precinct in Queens recently revealed Ideascale, a way to connect with more citizens about issues in their community. A few thousand people who submitted their email addresses will use Ideascale.
Although it’s a great concept, it seems like it’s not going to take off the ground anytime soon.
The site was created so people can express ideas or concerns in their community, such as graffiti. It also is trying to get those who wouldn’t report a crime the ability to feel more comfortable contacting the police.
These issues may not fully be addressed by the site as it is first coming to life. At the moment all issues from the site aren’t anything big. Because the Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti of the 109th Precinct stated, “We’re going to tailor our nonemergency police response to it.” This would mean the issues on the site might not be address right away, or put off if the station has bigger things to worry about.
As for people being afraid to contact the police, the site doesn’t help them out. The New York Times article discussed how the comments made by those on the site will be visible to anyone else who has joined the precinct’s site. This does make the site more anonymous than others, but if others can see what you write, there may still be those who are afraid to speak up. If you’re afraid to pick up your phone and call something in, why would posting something others can see be helpful to you?
In the article, Conforti talked about how new issues were being brought to his attention because of Twitter. It also discusses how a big segment of people in the area already feel comfortable talking to the police about any issues they see arise in their area. For these people, the site will be great. It will allow for a more direct conversation between the citizens in their neighborhood and the police department about what can be done.
It may increase the conversation, but will that be enough? If the issues on the site are mainly going to be a low-key thing, how seriously will the department handle the site? What if people post irrelevant things, or post something extremely serious? The article states that “the new tool will be implemented slowly, as the department works to balance easy access for residents with controls on irrelevant or sensitive information.” How will the department handle the flow of information?
The site, at this moment, is only suitable for some. As it develops and more people register for it, there may be steps that need to be taken to help different precincts handle issues more quickly and efficiently. It should also try to create a way where people can post their information anonymously, or at the least make it anonymous to other users. This way, the police can still see who has expressed the concern. Until then, those who feel comfortable will continue to talk and aid the police, while others will have to remain silent.