By now video captured by cell phone users has been used in courts to put criminals away for a long time. But can app technology actually be used to prevent a crime from happening?

Several police departments across the country has benefitted from apps that allow users to anonymously report crimes, know where registered sex offenders live, and see crime statistics in areas that should be avoided at night if you are alone. This article will examine a few law enforcement apps that have contributed to the better of society, while making future predictions.

Reporting crimes

Last year the city of Superior in Wisconsin turned to the IOS and Android platforms and launched a new app for Android that permits users to anonymously share information with law enforcement professionals. Police departments hope that the information shared to this platform will aid in crime prevention, or can be used to make arrests that lead to convictions. The app known as SPDT provides a smooth and confidential stream of communication between police and the public in which messages can be sent back and forth, or users can even engage in a dialogue chat box. The app is not monitored 24/7, so any emergency should still be routed through calling 9-1-1.

Shortly after this app proved successful, Virginia’s Marion Police Department launched an app called iWatch Marion. Like the example from Wisconsin, this app provides citizens with an easy and anonymous way to report potential crimes. This app even has added features where members of the public can share videos and images. But this app provides a service back to the user: members of the public can sign up for text alerts that report missing children, school closings, and local weather to name a few.

Predicting the future of crime statistics

The crime rate tumbled in the 1990s, and many account the advancement of cell phone technology for the crime rate drop. In a study conducted by University of Pennsylvania law professor Jonathan Klick and George Mason University law and economics professor Thomas Stratmann, finding revealed that cell phones and lower crime rates, especially in areas of rape and assault, go hand-in-hand. The researchers claim that mobile phones increase surveillance and the risks of apprehension when committing crimes against others. Therefore more criminals stop and consider the chance of being caught before acting. The researchers continue to state that criminals are more weary now, and that the cost of committing the crime offers too much risk as opposed to its past system of weights and measurements.

At the end of the day, mobile devices allow for a quicker reporting of crimes. As technology advances (and according to trending and statistics) crime rates should go down.

Social media’s badge

Almost every police department has a Facebook page that shares community news, statistics, reports arrests, and honors officers and community members alike. As over 1 billion people are on Facebook, seeing the effort law enforcement makes on a daily basis should aid further in discouraging criminals from acting out illegally.

A great supplemental program to virtual crime fighting could exist via a blog to educate and inform community members about statistics in their areas and to make sure they know their rites. If cities were to hire a professional to optimize their content and integrate multiple social media platforms into their virtual crime prevention efforts, the results should give the crime rate an extra jolt down to lower levels.