This story is from the category Connectivity
Date posted: 11/07/2010
Instant feedback technology that allows the public to voice spontaneous opinions about their surroundings is being tested to help make cities safer.
The 'Voice Your View' (vYv) technology has been developed by scientists from the Research Councils UK Digital Economy Programme, led by EPSRC, and allows people to provide feedback about their environment, including how safe they feel.
Opinions can be expressed either through public terminals or easy-access software on mobile phones. The system then processes responses to create an instant 'wiki-display' of local issues that will help councils concentrate resources where they are needed most. For example, people might report that they feel unsafe in an area with poor lighting. Or they could express their fears about the visibility of the police in their area.
vYv allows users to track their comments, see who agrees with them and view other issues reported elsewhere in their neighbourhood.
Professor Jon Whittle of Lancaster University, who is leading the research, says: "Think of it like a socially conscious twitter, or an anytime anywhere reporting mechanism. It's a form of social activism that could be really powerful for communities."
The vYv team are concerned with crime perception because numerous studies show that although crime data is the main way of assessing an area's safety, individuals can experience much higher levels of stress from the fear of crime than from their actual experience of it. This stress can potentially affect general wellbeing, local mobility and confidence - with the elderly, women and students particularly affected. The physical environment, such as unused and empty spaces, poorly lit areas and areas obscured by trees and shrubs all contribute to these experiences; which is where vYv comes into its own.
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