Thursday, June 21, 2012

iWitness and tech acceleration part 2

This is a continuation of my last post; the gist being that this new app is a surprisingly close approximation of a project I was working on myself. However, it is missing some features that I would like to describe.

A word of warning: I lack an internal description of the app's functioning. Hence, some of these adjustments may not be applicable or may have already been implemented.

First, it would be useful to have a brief description of each and every client that could be sent to the police in addition to their GPS coordinates.

Second, if raw GPS data is being sent, one can implement a more detailed description of the clients whereabouts leaving less processing on the side of the police. A lot of the difficulties associated with E911 are related to the challenges in locating an individual when they are not calling from a land line. The result is that an operator must reroute you from a central hub in order to place your call to the appropriate PSAP (i.e., valuable time is being wasted and you have to be able to speak). Thus, by sending even raw GPS data, iWitness is minimizing the second factor, but increasing the first if the integration is not seamless (i.e., processing of the raw GPS coordinates must occur without forewarning). My solution to this problem was to use this site to determine the nearest street address as well as the Country of origin (necessary for global implementation), etc. The long-term goal was to be able to route to the PSAPs directly.

Third, it would be my hope that the producers of iWitness will be keeping track of the statistical usage of their app. All of that data related to when and where the app is armed and fired is likely to be crucial for future systems. These systems, like Y!kes, will be able to use positional data to warn the client that they are entering a 'redzone,' for what reasons (e.g., by implementing a feedback system for clients), perhaps auto-arming, and/or auto-warning friends, family, or parents that this individual is in a vulnerable location or that their app is armed.

Fourth, I can see this augmentation of the 911 service quickly transferring to other emergency services: hospitals and fire departments. Distributed processing and decentralization would become crucial in these frameworks as the user becomes the ever-present eyes, ears, and hands of these services. Virtually unlimited amounts of information about households and medical records could begin to be stored by the users and for the users. And, if one user fails to indicate a problem, any and everyone else will have the capacity to capture valuable forms of information for transmission to the relevant services and vice versa from the services to the user. Location mapping and hotspots will become useful sources for community objectives while communities themselves become stronger through cross-communication. At least, this is the potential.

There are potential issues here regarding the security of this data, but these infrastructure kinks are likely to have been problems all along (i.e., the whole system needs to be updated). Thus, the fact that they are inescapable in this new framework is in some ways beneficial in that solutions will be sought and the system will adapt.

Similarly, distributed, user based networks are still criticized in some circles (e.g., Wikipedia in most Universities). The possibility of imprecise or blatantly incorrect data is always present. However, in my mind, as long as the users (on both sides) know the limitations, these primitive infrastructures are still better than none. Plus, even centralized data entry must be checked and rechecked.

In sum, as technology becomes ever present in our lives, society and its members are going to have to become more technologically inclined overall. Limited coding knowledge and understanding of electronic architecture is going to need to be basic parlance. Protective mechanisms will be no different than modern day clothing. The fact that we can currently run around naked in cyberspace does not legitimate the behaviour.