Project Details

People sat on a bus, one man looking at his mobile phone


Working towards citizens policing one another.

By iThinQware

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @iThinQware

Organisation URL:

  • Community Engagement
  • Data
  • Geolocation
  • Mobile

The idealised society described in Thomas More’s Utopia did not have a police force because citizens were so well behaved and they kept an eye on one another. It was a self-policing society.

The iWatch application is a step towards More’s vision of a world where citizens take on a large share of the responsibility to police one another.

iWatch is a simple smartphone application that enables citizens to anonymously turn in tips, images and videos of suspected crimes, in the form of a text message, using a smartphone app, or through the service’s website, in 32 different languages.

The tips are then assessed and analysed by the police, and forwarded on to other agencies, such as the local council. Not only does it connect the police directly, especially to a younger generation of smartphone users, the data the system generates helps to show patterns of offences and points to where police resources are most needed: this is intelligence-based community policing. It is being used in 15 cities across the US, from Dallas to Cleveland.

In the wake of the Boston bombing, thousands of people took part in ultimately fruitless and sometimes damaging attempts to track down the bombers by analysing images found on the internet. iWatch is an alternative to that kind of digital lynch mob because it creates a way for police and active citizens to work together: it is a way to bring the traditional Neighbourhood Watch into the digital age.

Image 'ombie' courtesy of ThreeErin

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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