The Venezuelan smartphone security app

Venezuela has launched a smartphone app that connects users to the nearest police unit in case of emergency, part of the more progressive side of the government's new security strategy. 

Starting September 24, Venezuelans with smartphones will be able to download the "Intelligent Patrolling" (Patrullaje Inteligente) app for Apple and Android operating systems, announced Interior and Justice Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres.

The app forms part of a security plan -- also called "Intelligent Patrolling" -- that the government launched in January. The plan involved dividing certain municipalities in Caracas into quadrants, and assigning police units to patrol them. At the time, the government argued that this plan would allow the police to respond more quickly to crime, and would enable better community policing.

The app allows users to contact the police unit responsible for their quadrant, based on the user’s current location. Users will also receive security alerts, and will be able to look up crime data within a given neighborhood.

Torres also announced that authorities are currently in talks with the leaders of 16 gangs in the country, discussing their possible disarmament. The gangs would hand over their guns as part of another recently launched government effort, known as the National Disarmament Plan, in which civilians are encouraged to voluntarily turn in their weapons.

InSight Crime Analysis  

Venezuela's Intelligent Patrolling initiative is a welcome effort to encourage better community policing in the capital. Colombia's capital Bogota implemented a similar plan in 2011 and experienced a subsequent drop in crime. Chile has also used a similar approach, dividing up Santiago into "quadrants" and then assigning more police to the areas where they are most needed. 

There have been other attempts across Latin America to create smartphone apps that would encourage reporting of crime. Venezuela's app faces the same challenge as these apps in other countries: their success is dependent on whether people actually use it. And people are unlikely to use the app unless they are convinced that it will work.

The question, then, is whether Caracas police are capable of using the information given to them via the app to become more effective at fighting crime, thereby building the public's trust in their abilities and encouraging more people to actually use this new tool. Given the persistent levels of violence and insecurity in Caracas -- as well as endemic police corruption -- this will be no easy task.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

Where Chaos Reigns: Inside the San Pedro Sula Prison

In San Pedro Sula's jailhouse, chaos reigns. The inmates, trapped in their collective misery, battle for control over every inch of their tight quarters. Farm animals and guard dogs roam free and feed off scraps, which can include a human heart. Every day is visitors' day, and...