And, yes, an article whose title ends with a question mark most often has an answer of ‘no’ and that’s the case here. What caught my eye over the weekend was news of a few apps that might to help reduce racial tension with an app called Driving While Black.
Touch, Alert, Record
What struck me about the news article was a description of the app– users can alert friends or family by touching a button on the app, and begin the recording function to document any interaction with a police officer.
Think about that scenario for a moment. That there’s even a need for such functionality is an indictment of modern society.
Yet, thanks to a number of high profile shootings in the U.S. in the past few years, obviously there’s a need to have modern technology document many confrontations between people and authorities.
Cameras on the dashboard of police cars do more than simply provide fodder for a cable TV network show. It helps to document exactly what happened in a given situation.
The reactions to the recent rash of racially charged shootings may have been mitigated had officers been equipped with recording technology. The Driving While Black app provides some common sense tips to all motorists, regardless of their race, and the option to document interaction of authorities and people can only help defuse certain situations.
The world’s population uses over a billion smartphones with cameras. That may explain why we don’t have new videos of Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monster, little green Martians, or ghosts. They don’t exist (at least, not around anyone with a good camera).
Being able to use smartphone technology to record an incident may be incendiary, but it may be a protection for both sides of a dispute. It’s unlikely such apps will end racism, as the cause is much deeper than an app can solve, but it can be used to provide good old fashioned common sense combined with an option to record incidents where racism may be a prime motivator for lawless action.