A couple of nights ago, I had the honour to meet the team who put Godzilla in the Thames during the student protests. Making use of freely available internet tools, they maintained a live map of central London throughout the demonstrations showing the location of police kettles and blocked roads so protesters could stay safe and move freely on the streets of the capital.
Their next project takes this to a whole new level.
Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing quoted approvingly Dr Ben Goldacre’s admiration:
A few days ago I suggested that the UK’s protesting students could do with some kind of “anti-kettling app”, to outwit the efforts of the police to stop them protesting, and keep them detained out in the freezing cold subzero temperatures well after bedtime. It turns out I was over engineering things in my head.
From midnight tonight you have the chance to see Dr Ben Goldacre’s over-engineered vision become reality. You can take part in a historic experiment in crowd sourcing with the launch of Sukey a new website and mobile phone application that will use the wisdom of the crowds to help keep peaceful protesters safe.
Day by day, popular opposition is growing to a series of vicious, unnecessary ideological cuts from a minority Conservative government that is propped up by duplicitous Liberal Democrats. More and more people from all walks of life are exercising their democratic and legal right to protest
Sukey is both a website and an application for mobile phones. Even those with older handsets can take part through free SMS messages.
By encouraging people to share their experiences on the ground, Sukey gives people taking part all the information they need to make informed decisions while letting the world know what is really happening rather than a selective vision determined by the news agendas of traditional media outlets.
But the old media is not ignored. Sukey will combine information from traditional news sources with eye witness reports from the street, handing it straight back to the crowds so that they will know what is going on around them live as it happens.
Sukey is easy to use and will help keep people safe and informed of the official demonstration route together with anything else they may need including public toilets, tube stations, first aid and payphones.
Everyone has the right to peaceful protest. Sukey makes sure that the experience can be a safe and effective way for people to make their voices heard.
Clearly this will upset men like Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the unaccountable private limited company run by police chiefs that was recently exposed as having authorised, in the course of spying on peaceful protesters, undercover agents to behave in a way that left women feeling humiliated, degraded, ashamed, sullied, exploited and violated.
But when the majority of people taking part in protests are peaceful we should welcome everything that helps keep the majority of people safe from the small minority of trouble makers that exists on both sides of the thin blue line.