Co-Production in an Information Age
In Ramsey County, Minn., you don’t have to be a cop to fi ght crime. In fact, you don’t even have to leave your desk. All you have to do is join the county’s virtual neighborhood watch network and you’ll be able to lookout for suspicious activity from your computer. (Nichols, 2010)
New practices of co-production are being facilitated by the new media. The Ramsey County example is telling: citizens are asked to help the police by monitoring online safety cameras. Thirty cameras have been put up at criminal hot spots, or areas with frequent vehicle break-ins, thefts and assaults. The wireless technology allows law enforcement offi cers to watch what is going on but the police have a limited number of “eyeballs.” To extend their number of “eyeballs,” they have created a website (www.ramseycountysheriffwebcop.com) that enables users to gain access to fourteen of the county’s surveillance cameras set up in various public areas. If users spot any suspicious activity, they can report this to the local authorities. The authorities can then watch the cameras more closely and dispatch police to the location if this is needed. The citizens help the authorities to focus their attention. Sheriff Bob Fletcher says in an introduction video on the site: “We want you to help us look for suspicious activity” (Nichols, 2010).