Screenshot 2014-08-19 at 10.18.01

Group of Teens From Georgia Develop FiveO; an App to Rate Local Police

August 19, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

Over the last few weeks, the news stories in the US have been filled with the civil unrest taking place in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson in Missouri. After the shooting of Michael Brown, the city has spiraled into unrest, with the National Guard being brought in to try and put a lid on things. The whole situation has caused the public to question how the Police force acts, particularly in black communities. To check the pulse on how Law Enforcement is treating people, three teenagers from Georgia have put together a fairly simple smartphone app that will essentially allow members of the public to recount their dealings with local police forces and connect with others.

Caleb Christian and his two sisters, Asha and Ima, whom are 14, 15 and 16, respectively put together the FiveO app after hearing about Ferguson and the Brown shooting. Speaking about how the idea for the app came about Ima says their parents encouraged them; “We’ve been hearing about the negative instances in the news, for instance most recently the Michael Brown case, and we always talk about these issues with our parents. They always try to reinforce that we should focus on solutions. It’s important to talk about the issues, but they try to make us focus on finding solutions. That made us think why don’t we create an app to help us solve this problem.”

That’s basically what FiveO is, or rather what FiveO could become. Through the app, members of the public can rate their experiences with certain officers, listing their badge number, their race and more. All of this data is then logged and categorized – by county and such – for others to take a look at, with the aim to present said data to local officials and focus on reaching a solution, rather than causing more problems. It seems to me that FiveO is a step in the right direction, there are clearly problems specific to Ferguson in the Brown case, but overall a lack of communication between Police forces and the communities they are sworn to protect seems to lead to such problems. Without communicating with the community, an element of unknown starts to form and with that comes fear, a big factor at the heart of Ferguson.

While the idea that three teenagers have created a smartphone app at the moment the country is wrapped up in reports of Ferguson, the three of them shouldn’t be dismissed. All three of them took part in the MIT’s k12 Scratch and App Inventor program and with some encouragement from their folks continued to learn JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Java. They’ve already got two other apps available – Coily and Froshly – through their own app company, Pinetart Inc. The app is available to download in the Play Store right now, and while it’s basic, it sure seems like a step in the right direction.