National Distracted Driver Awareness Month

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot4/9/2014
woman applying makeup while driving

The entire month of April is dedicated to National Distracted Driver Awareness Month and for good reason. Distracted Driving not only puts the driver at risk, but places passengers, other drivers, and innocent bystanders in harm’s way. While texting and driving has become one of the most common and dangerous distractions nationwide, other notable distractions include driving while drowsy, adjusting music, reading, using a GPS, eating and drinking, and talking on the phone.

To help grasp the seriousness of this growing concern, here are some key statistics provided by the Official US Government Website for Distracted Driving:

  • Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.

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Helpful Heroes

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot4/2/2014
police arrest

Crimes occur everyday and without the assistance of an attentive and caring public, would often go unreported and unresolved. Yet, this needed assistance runs counter to what our public safety stewards want and expect from its citizens if the help results in confrontation and places the citizen in harm’s way.

In South Florida, corporate headquarters to sci-Shot’s Community Watch Mobile App, four separate instances highlight the need to protect citizens without limiting their engagement and willingness to participate in issues of public safety.

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The Importance of Eyewitness Accounts

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot3/19/2014
police car

Thanks in part to social media, personal observations and conversations are an accepted and integral part of our public dialogue. And, this dialogue seems to have the greatest impact in the public safety arena. People are sharing, confidentially or otherwise, their stories and are often taking action when asked to participate in our collective well-being.

Nodding Mother on Bus: In early March, a video of a woman on a bus falling in and out of sleep, with child in tow attempting to wake her, went viral. Surprisingly, none of the passengers contacted police at the time of the incident. Nonetheless, one of the passengers posted the video on YouTube and it went viral, helping police to identify the woman who has a record with convictions of theft, disorderly conduct, and promoting prostitution. The child was removed from the home, pending further investigation.

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To Call or Not to Call?

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot3/12/2014
woman on phone

People are often hesitant to call 911 when they witness an unusual or suspicious incident. While an incident may not be clearly illegal, it may raise suspicion. This creates a grey area in which witnesses question whether or not they should call the police.

Man Carrying Purse: In early February, a suspicious man was seen walking behind a home in Oak Lane, Florida carrying a woman’s purse. A witness, suspecting something unusual, contacted the police. When the deputy arrived at the scene, he discovered that other property was missing from the home. The suspect later admitted to stealing the purse, and is now charged with burglary and larceny. More...

Cybertips

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot3/5/2014
employees on a computer

Google’s partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recently led to a February 2014 arrest of a Florida man on child pornography charges. This cyber-tip illustrates how technologies developed by the private sector aid our public safety stewards in their efforts to keep our communities safe, and errant behavior contained. Nonetheless, some argue that technology has become too obtrusive, and risks compromising our rights to privacy in order to ensure our safety. It is to this concern that sci-Shot’s social movement app speaks.

sci-Shot’s app is a crowd-centered, and crowd-focused app that  provides a reliable and confidential resource for users to voluntarily and anonymously share pictures, video and comments of their observations of the suspicious or unusual, as defined by the user.  sci-Shot is not a report line for imminent threats, but rather a need breed of app that empowers a caring public to share and preserve their real-time eye witness accounts of socially curious conduct, conditions or events until such time the account is needed in order to bridge the gap between what is known and unknown.

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What Happens When You Call 911?

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot2/26/2014
woman tangled in phone lines

A recent campaign by the Washington County Dispatch in Oregon is trying to spread awareness for the proper use of 911. The campaign, ‘You Called 911 For That?!’ publishes the most ridiculous use of the 911 system each week. Agency Spokesperson Mark Chandler told ABC News, “You should only call 911 if there is an emergency involving your life or property.” So how are you supposed to know who to call for non-emergency incidents? That’s where sci-Shot’s mobile app comes in handy.

sci-Shot provides a discretionary reporting system for incidents that are curious or suspicious and worth sharing but may not warrant a call to law enforcement or another emergency responder. sci-Shot users can act on an impulse without concern about calling on the limited resources of emergency responders.

Oregon’s campaign has featured non-emergency 911 calls such as a debit card not working at a gas station or complaints of a person smoking a cigarette on a train platform. These types of calls should be directed to local law enforcement so that the emergency lines do not get tied up. That leads to the question of what types of incidents are worth reporting to sci-Shot?

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Know Your Rights

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot1/22/2014
woman taking a photo

Our public safety social movement app permits a caring public to confidentially communicate their public safety concerns by taking photos and videos of the seemingly hazardous, harmful, or illegal incidents they witness each day. Because we’re counting on you to take photos and videos we wanted to make sure you know your rights as a photographer/videographer. According to the American Civil Liberties Union: 

  • You can photograph or record anything that is in plain sight when you are in public spaces
  • When you are on private property, your right to photograph or videotape is up to the property owner. If you disregard the property owner’s rules you can be arrested for trespassing if you do not comply
  • The right to photograph/videotape does not give you a right to disregard any other laws
  • You cannot take photos or video of someone in private. For example, you cannot take photos or video of someone in their home because that is considered private. You cannot take photos or video of someone in a public restroom because that is considered a private space.

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Why Crimes Go Unreported

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot1/7/2014
man stealing purse

The FBI reported 1,214,462 violent crimes in 2012. That’s just reported violent crimes. A study by the Bureau of Justice estimates that nearly 3.4 million violent crimes go unreported a year. According to the same study, the majority of crimes that go unreported are due to the victim or witnesses being afraid of reprisal. Is it possible, too, that people are not always certain what should be reported, to whom it should be reported, and when to report it?

Given the scope of hotlines and online systems that allow for anonymous reporting, there still remains a need for a nationwide reporting mechanism that encourages reporting of all threatening matters, suspicious or criminal, confidentially and without fear. 

So far, we have come across a few apps that do a good job of allowing users to report crime so we made a comparison chart to showcase the features of each.

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Can a Mobile App Keep Our Communities Safe and Law-Abiding?

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot12/3/2013
mobile app screen shot

Imagine a world where tragedies like the Boston Marathon Bombings are averted through the thoughtful actions of the crowd. sci-Shot thinks that world is ours to make. sci-Shot’s ‘limited release’ of its brand new and unique social movement app is available now for users who want to be part of a crowd that captures, organizes, and shares their street images and video with legitimate enterprises seeking eye-witness accounts.

And, just as important, sci-Shot provides a confidential system for the flow of communication between all stakeholders of public safety, as well as a streamlined tool for broadcasting public safety matters to the masses.

According to Broward Crime Stoppers Executive Director, Ralph Page, “Sci Shot provides another way for the community and Crime Stoppers to assist law enforcement in keeping our streets safe.”

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See Something Snap Something

by Anita Setnor Byer, Founder - sci-Shot11/6/2013
bar fight

The adage, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ is nowhere more significant than in the context of an eye-witness account. A picture, as well as video, captures detail unnoticed by the eye, and allows little room for interpretation. Until now, though, there has not been an organized and confidential source to ‘house’ these pictures until and if a legitimate enterprise seeks an eye-witness account.

In 2014, sci-Shot will be providing the ‘crowd’ with a secure and effective mobile application to upload photos and videos of illegal, hazardous and harmful activities that they witness. And, better yet, they’ll get paid for it. More...