CityCop: The Citizen Safety Social Network
The computer engineer Nadim Curi created CityCop, an app aimed at improving public safety which indicates the safest areas and routes
How can we fight street crimes which are not reported to the police? The lack of confidence in law enforcement and excessive bureaucracy discourage many people from reporting lesser offences to the authorities. Without these formal complaints, these crimes cannot be investigated either; without complaints, impunity grows. This is one of the greatest obstacles to improving public safety in Latin American cities. According to the Citizen Security with a Human Face: Evidence and Proposals for Latin America report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 60% of all crimes committed in Latin America go unreported. Faced with this situation, the computer engineer Nadim Curi has developed CityCop, a mobile app which allows users to submit alerts and register any incidents or crimes they observe or are victim to.
Curi´s objective is to gather and display all of the information collected through the app to help prevent crime and overcome the public´s lack of confidence in law enforcement. He also aims to reduce the obfuscation which criminals take advantage of, the young entrepreneur adds. CityCop´s creator calls it the Waze of citizen safety. Where Waze recommends the most efficient route according to traffic patterns and incidents reported by users, CityCop recommends the safest route.
People can receive alerts related to the areas they visit regularly, like work, home and their childrens´ schools. In order to respect their privacy, users can report incidents anonymously or through a fictitious avatar. Curi also plans to share the information gathered with the authorities. While not be legally admissible, this information can be helpful in elaborating criminality models, something which the Chilean Investigative Police Department is already doing.
Curi, who was recognized as one of MIT Technology Review, Spanish edition´s Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2017, is conscious that one of the challenges to solidifying CityCop will be preventing false alarms. The key to this, he explains, resides in achieving the largest number of active users possible. There is no comparison between one person reporting a certain type of incident (a robbery, for example) and dozens of users reporting the same incident. When several alerts are emitted in relation with a particular situation, the information gains weight. Currently, the app boasts over 220,000 users, with a monthly rate of active users of 9.2% during the past year.
In addition to Chile, CityCop is also in use in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. This innovator´s idea is to make this app global. CityCop has been supported by Start Up Chile and this year the app has participated in the Techstar Austin accelerator in the United States. Now, his objective is to launch the app in the US and, from there, to scale up to a global scale. At the end of the day, he points out, public safety is a basic need which every country should be interested in guaranteeing for its citizens.