Survey Finds Citizens Want Two-Way Online Interaction with Law Enforcement
Tuesday, January 09, 2018 | Comments

A new "safe cities" survey sponsored by Unisys and conducted by research company YouGov queried a total of nearly 4,000 respondents in 10 cities around the world to gauge their attitudes on a wide range of security-related issues.

U.S. city dwellers registered a high level of willingness to use online media to help law enforcement agencies combat crime — with 89 percent stating they would be willing to submit evidence digitally in some form. Further, 79 percent of U.S. respondents said they would be willing to submit digital photos to law enforcement to use as evidence, and 65 percent would be willing to provide evidence via text messaging.

The U.S. cities covered by the survey were Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Cities outside of the U.S. covered by the survey were Amsterdam, Mexico City, Rome, Sao Paolo, Singapore and Sydney.

"This survey shows that people in U.S. cities want two-way interaction with law enforcement agencies," said Mark Forman, global head, Unisys Public Sector. "With today's smart cities initiatives, police departments often invest in digital technologies for one-way activities like surveillance of city streets and mining social media. This survey indicates that citizens want a secure and reliable two-way street for interaction with police, where citizens can communicate directly using the digital tools they have at their fingertips, such as smartphones, while retaining a degree of control over how and when they engage with law enforcement."

The new survey found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would upload evidence on a crime that had just taken place (61 percent), but only 37 percent would allow police to access their PCs to investigate a crime. At the same time, large percentages of U.S. respondents were worried that their messages to police would not reach the right person (44 percent) or that the government's technology might fail (42 percent).

And while 60 percent of respondents in the four U.S. cities surveyed support police use of facial recognition and video surveillance for public safety, only 37 percent said they would be willing to accept more government surveillance and monitoring to achieve significantly greater personal security.

"The results of this survey tell us that police and other public-safety and service agencies should embrace technologies that enable more communications methods and means with the public," said Forman. "This can have numerous positive effects, such as improved overall relationships and increased case clearance rates. However, they must be used wisely and with an understanding that public trust will necessarily limit the scope and types of devices that will be acceptable."

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