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.