quinta-feira, 7 de fevereiro de 2008
Motivation and Goals of WikiCrimes
WikiCrimes has now an english version (as well as a portuguese one). Just reminding the main goals and motivations. The debate on the credibility of criminal data currently being supplied to society by law enforcement agencies is growing more heated every day. The traditional mechanism of data-gathering for which such agencies are responsible ends up giving them a monopoly over the handling of information on criminal occurrences, which is not always in keeping with the precept of transparency and public availability of information required by a democratic system. Allied to that, the limitations to provide high-quality public services, tend to provoke a feeling of disbelief among the populace which, in turn, contributes toward the low rate of reporting such occurrences: the so-called underreporting effect. Research conducted with victims of crime has shown that underreporting may, in densely-populated areas, is always there. The result of this can be disastrous in terms of formulation of public policies and especially in the planning of police actions, in view of the fact that the official criminal mapping may reflect a trend that is quite unlike what is actually occurring in real life. WikiCrimes intends to change the traditional logic of handling information on crimes that have already occurred, and considers that such a change is up to the citizens themselves. It is based on the principle that with adequate support, citizens will be capable of deciding how and when historical information on criminal occurrences can be publicized. WikiCrimes aims to be this support. It draws inspiration from the collaborative form of working on the Web, popularly exemplified today by the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The idea is that the total mapping of crimes in a geographical area can be done, in a collaborative manner, directly by citizens. Consequently, data stemming from this participatory mapping will be automatically available for consultation and access by everyone, to use as they see fit. WikiCrimes also opens possibilities for conducting victimization studies that are more comprehensive and less costly than those being done at the present. Finally, we hope that it can serve as a tool for use by the public agencies themselves in the formulation of public safety policies and, in particular, by police forces in their activities of analysis and planning. Comparisons among the criminal maps produced by WikiCrimes with those produced by the law enforcement agencies, for example, may bring new knowledge about the dynamic of crime.