While the City of Red Deer recently launched an online map of reported crimes, the City of Edmonton is introducing an app you can use to indicate if you feel unsafe.
Some Red Deerians like the capital city’s idea: open the app and pin whether you’re feeling safe or unsafe in a particular area and why.
Red Deer resident John Jones likes Edmonton’s app for two reasons: it’s data in real time and reports incidents that may not have been called into police.
Jones, who manages the Community Crime Watch page on Facebook for Red Deer and area, believes Edmonton’s app is a “terrific” idea.
“A lot of people don’t call stuff into the police anymore, people are fed up (with crime),” he said.
“The jails are full and the court system is broken,” he said, referring to the catch and release of criminals.
“Crime prevention needs to start here (at the city level), and go on to provincial and federal levels,” he said.
He doesn’t believe the app would be helpful in the short run, but rather in the long term, because it would catch everybody’s attention, including the RCMP, if one area gets a bad reputation repeatedly.
The Red Deer husband and father said it’s important to report everything to the RCMP, and the app would help with that, and in some cases, it would help the police know where they’re needed immediately.
“Big part of the patrols, neighbourhood watch groups, mapping, is you’re letting these guys know they’re being watched, because the criminals don’t want to be seen.
“You don’t have to talk to them. You just have to let them know that you see them and you’re watching them. In my neighbourhood, some of us are doing that, and it’s really helped.”
Selene Fraser, owner of Barber Shop on Gaetz, says the app would be helpful, while admitting she won’t be the using it, as she’s not extremely tech savvy.
“I think anything that makes people safer is not a bad idea,” said the business owner, who has been downtown for 10 years.
“For women, in particular, if they’re having to walk alone, it would make them feel more secure perhaps. And the time factor, to say if they feel secure during different times of the day, is not a bad idea.”
Fraser also finds the Red Deer crime mapping tool interesting and helpful.
The City of Red Deer launched an online crime mapping tool July 4 that shows reported crime for multiple categories: theft from a motor vehicle, theft of a motor vehicle, theft over or under $5,000, break and enter, and mischief.
Red Deer RCMP has utilized crime mapping for many years. Now, the publicly available map, which is a one-year pilot project, shows data from the past 14 days.
City Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said good on Edmonton for its app, noting it was in the works for about four years.
She said she doesn’t see why an app like that wouldn’t work for Red Deer, especially in this day and age, when everyone has a smartphone.
“It’s good for the younger generation, but for me, it’s about response, action and change, and that’s hopefully the outcome that comes from stuff like this,” said Wynjtes.
“This app is helpful for how you design a city. What kind of areas need response and attention, so it’s in touch with the people, and hearing from the citizens is always a good thing, so I think it would work.
“But the question for the government is: what do you want us to do? How much is it going to cost?”
Wynjtes said she plans to share the app with the experts within the city to see if it’s something Red Deer could duplicate.
Because Jones finds that not everybody is reporting crimes to the RCMP, he started his own database.
Jones started mapping crimes that are reported on Facebook onto a Google map, in December. Since then, he’s done a map every month.
“A lot of this stuff that gets posted on Facebook isn’t necessarily called into the police,” he said.
But it’s hard work keeping track of what people are posting 24 hours a day and manually entering the data onto a digital map.
To look at the maps, find Community Crime Watch on Facebook.