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Apps: The latest tool in fighting crime


When police officers in Los Angeles used Apple’s ‘Find my iPhone’ app to locate an armed mobile phone thief who had forgotten to switch off the tracking device, it was seen by many as a sign of the crime-fighting potential of new smartphone technology.

Since 2011, when the Los Angeles case hit global headlines, apps have become ever more popular, now coming to infiltrate almost every aspect of our lives. And with it, a new generation of safety and surveillance technology has arrived, from online panic buttons to digital rape alarms and gunshot-detecting maps.

But questions remain about the long-term funding of such projects, with the current revenue models – mostly philanthropic – seen by many as unsustainable. Concerns have also been raised about the safety of such apps, with critics claiming they encourage bystanders to linger around dangerous incidents....