Facewatch: Crowdsourced Crimefighting Revisited

9 Apr
© Penny Matthews

© Penny Matthews

Do you remember that story arc in the Batman/Superman comic (#53-56) where they switched powers, and Batman went kinda nuts because he finally had the ability to fight every crime? No? It’s a good one, look it up.

My point is this: if Batman can’t be everywhere at once, the police definitely can’t. This is why we see platforms like iPaidABribe and the Syrian Sexual Assault Crowdmap; the crowd can be the eyes for the police and fill in where the normal service may not be enough.

This is the drive behind Facewatch, which seeks to reduce some of the petty crimes that business owners may experience. These crimes, the website claims, are small, committed serially, and recurring, meaning that they bleed the company over a long time and are very difficult to catch. Facewatch speeds up the process by allowing businesses to submit their crime evidence (victim statements, CCTV footage and stills) directly to the police instead of filing an official report and waiting.

After the victim reports the crime, Facewatch goes a few steps further to help ensure it is solved and won’t happen again. They circulate images of the perpetrator to local businesses and industry networks, since many criminals use the same tactics on multiple locations. For the victim, Facewatch provides an instant crime reference number for insurance, email updates about the status of the case, and a one-phone-call process to cancel and replace any stolen cards.

As the brand becomes more fleshed out, simply having a “Facewatch” sticker on an establishment’s window will deter crime. And while it’s great to see places like Africa, Syria, and India embrace citizen police work, it’s good to see it being applied to a context the average American can relate to a little more strongly. Anyone who has had their wallet lifted has wished there was a better way to recover it; now there is.


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