While crime-sourcing has allowed organized crime groups to commit more crimes with less risk, law enforcement officials are now leveraging the power of crowdsourcing to fight crime as well.
The NYPD has already launched a social media unit to track criminals on Facebook and Twitter. More recently, as the streets of the UK burned in the aftermath of violent protests, citizens of London banded together online to identify looters.
In one of the most impressive uses of “investigation-sourcing” to date, the Canadian public came together to identify the thousands of protesters who caused millions of dollars of damage as a result of the Vancouver Canucks losing the NHL championship in June 2011. Using a variety of image processing techniques, the firm Gigapixel was able to assemble 216 publicly submitted photographs and assemble them into one seamless high-resolution image. The phenomenal resolution of the resultant picture allowed the faces of tens of thousands of riot participants to be viewed in high resolution. The identification of more than 10,000 participants by name was completed by tagging individuals in Facebook, breaking a record for the number of tags in a given image to date. Many of those identified in the photos have now been successfully arrested and prosecuted by Canadian authorities.