A follow-up from this post in July 2008.
The City of Cleveland’s online police reporting system is now up. People can now submit online police reports for a limited amount of incidents (petty theft [less than $500] and property damages).
The City’s front page links to its Press Release (HTML) (1st link ) which then links to the official press release (PDF) (2nd link). This official PDF Press release then directs the reader to access the Cleveland Police page (3rd link) which has the actual Online Police Report System (4th link) which specifies what you can report and links to the Police Report form. A bit complicated, you know ? The city should place the link to the Online Police Report System on its Press Release (the 1st link) and tell how to find the static link on the 1st link.
What are the effects of this software ?
I’m not sure how much.
A] The amount of City of Cleveland residents without internet access is a bit high (I’m guessing) but creating the online police report system makes it easier for most people (not everyone knows how to use a computer, i.e. my dad) to make reports and for many people, removes a barrier (getting transportation and time to the police station) although the report system puts up another barrier (requiring internet and computer access).
B] This is a piece of software. Software, like any other tool, is only useful by the people who operate it. The online report system has the potential for the creation of maps and trends (I say this optimistically, because I have not used the underlying software and this is not specified in the press release) – like seeing a map of hotspots of bicycle thefts, along with their time and dates. Additionally, the software can facilitate the distribution of this information [already in a digital format] to people online. If the information is publicly released, an active citizenry can be a watchdog over the Police Department. Police and people can also make more informed decisions. However, missing from the press release is whether incident reporters can follow up with the police department to find out any updates in their cases and if so, how.
(static, in HTML lingo, means that the URL does not change each time a person access the link. You can give that URL to someone else and they will be able to access the same website later). The opposite of this, when the URL changes each time a person accesses it, is dynamic).