See Something, Change Something
In today’s world of evolving technology, we expect a certain level of “intimacy” with our data. We are no longer just passive receivers of data, but involved participants that create and distribute it. With the rise of crowd-sourced information, society increasingly demands this immediate and accurate information, and compels the people to provide it.
The “See Something, Say Something” campaign began in the subways of New York City. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adopted the campaign nationally in 2010 as part of a larger movement called the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI). After 9/11, the need need to share SAR information while still protecting citizens’ privacy and civil rights became paramount.
See Something Say Something raises public awareness of what various forms of terrorism could look like and the importance of alerting law enforcement of any suspicious activities. It has taught the public to recognize suspicious activity, and to speak up if they witness unusual activity.
Empowering citizens could take shape in a number of ways, from opening stronger communication channels by developing new feedback and rewards systems, to building better systems of trust by initiating community programs to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and communities. However, the overall purpose should remain establishing a direct and well-aligned goal shared by the public and law enforcement for managing security threat information.
Traditional systems of security are not sufficient to handle the overwhelming amount of data in the world today related to threats. We must constantly be innovating and developing new ways to use resources that are already available.
The slow shift in how we handle this gap is accelerating through social media. If DHS could harness the power of mass communication, it could improve public safety and give the public the “how” of security, but also the duty of “why.”