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Citizen Security and Crowdsourcing in Peru

Submitted by on September 12, 2010 – 3:18 amNo Comment

Editorial note: The following post was written by Peruvian blogger and translator Juan Arellano (who also translates posts from Información Cívica into Spanish). Citizen security is one of the major topics we will be looking at over the next few months. One of the most clear intersections digital media and citizen security has been the use of online mapping applications to make crime activities more transparent. Earlier this year I wrote a blog post comparing crime mapping initiatives in Latin America, including in Brazil, Delitos Ecuador, Mapa del Narcotrafico in Argentina, Panamá Transparente, and Iluminemos Mexico. The post also includes a number of recommendations for crime mapping projects. Two more recent crime mapping initiatives – both based in Venezuela – are and Victeams.

Arellano’s post takes a look at yet another recent crime mapping initiative, Que No Te Roben (“So they don’t rob you”), based in Peru.

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Although there have been no recent surveys or crime statistics to support it, there is a widespread perception that crime in Lima is increasing significantly. The daily media reports of assaults, vehicle thefts, kidnappings, muggings by organized gangs and more are constant reminders. It is true that Lima is not one of the most violent cities in the world, nor even in Latin America, but perhaps if crime statistics were regularly updated and more reliable than we would figure among the top of the lists. As would be expected, public safety is one of the key points emphasized by Lima’s mayoral candidates during the current campaign season.

It is in this context that the political association Police Dignity — headed by PNP General Cesar Alberto Jordan Brignole — decided to construct a map of robberies in the city of Lima.! is a platform based on Google Maps for citizens which crowdsources their reported cases of robberies. In its own words: “Que No Te Roben Pe aims to build a bridge of communication between citizens and police through the use of 49 maps of robberies based by police district.”

The platform is not hard to use. It is reasonably easy to report a theft or an attempted theft. To date, some 800 cases have been reported in the first two months the site has been up. This up-to-date statistics offer an interesting source of reference for citizens who want to know the degree of safety of various zones of the city.

In addition to the maps themselves there are three other channels of information: 1) the Robbery Tube, a channel of videos on Youtube with original content and recommended videos from others related to theft, 2) an account on Facebook (with 1488 fans at the moment), and 3) Twitter (720 followers so far), which disseminates useful information for the prevention of theft and robbery, among other types of relevant content. Here is what Gabriela Quevedo and Rudy Jordan, managers of the platform, say about its origin and objectives:

A few media outlets have featured the project, such as which interviewed Jordan who describes the origin of the idea: “When I was a police lieutenant we had ‘the blue book.’ At that time there were no computers and we noted [with pen and paper] the blocks with the most criminals and crimes.”

But it wasn’t until recently that a Web 2.0 version of the same strategy materialized. So far they have spent around $1,500 on the site, but Jordan emphasizes that they need more support.

Personally, I would like the project would close the circle and have contact and interaction with the police stations, thus the map of robberies would not be just a platform for complaints and consultation but also useful information for police so that they add more presence to areas that are more dangerous and are able to develop appropriate crime prevention plans. Similarly collaborations with the various “Serenazgo” citizen security groups throughout the city would be interesting. It would also be interesting, taking into account Lima’s socio-economic realities and lack of broadband penetration, to enable reports from mobile phones.

As the site managers have confirmed, there will soon be new features to the website including a statistics tab and blog. We hope that the project continues to grow and gain awareness among Lima’s residents.

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