Idea Farm: Citizen Cop - Streaming Video App

By Andrew Davidson
on January 4, 2019

Welcome to Idea Farm, where I offer business concepts and ideas that I don't want to pursue, but am glad to inspire others with. In return, I'd love acknowledgment if this inspires you!

I've bookmarked this UK announcement from July of 2018 about allowing citizens to upload dashcam footage to Police for later prosecution, as well as this Philadelphia Streets announcement of surveillance cameras to catch illegal dumping, and this Chinese App that geolocates nearby Deadbeats who owe money, and spying on their ability to pay up, as they seemed like foreshadowing of my own invented 'App' I'd been pitching for a few years:

Citizen 5-0 Cop

Our app acts as a live-stream video recorder, and will allow user flagged video clips of law breaking to prosecute offenders seen, using the observable evidence collected during the video clip. It will stream constantly to the internet (with the local time, date, and GPS coordinates imprinted onto the video frame), to prevent users from manipulating the footage or submitting non-live or prepared footage. This will discourage the submission of 'baiting' and vigilante justice warriors trying to solicit child molesters and guilt them by public shaming. This behavior is questionable legally, and is not resounding 'proof' of wrongdoing - but a clear sign of a public want for participation in the whittling of criminals from our society.

We require all evidence be in the video clip: a continuous smooth shot of the license plate, driver, and any relevant street signs are expected with most moving violations (speeding, reckless driving, illegal U-turns, illegal stops, etc.)

This text was copied directly from Under Design's web blog, Understatement: Idea Farm: Citizen Cop - Streaming Video App found at
Users will be prompted to select which specific local law they see being violated, to help funnel our submissions, and suggested fines, and keep a tally of possible rewards. In some cases, a simple still of a video frame of an illegal parking job is more than enough, although most major cities already have outsourced this service to a for-profit company.

Submissions are automatically prepared for local jurisdiction and prosecution with evidence sharing to both prosecution and defendants, then handed to local law enforcement / District Attorney's for confirmation and fine collection.

Users who flag and submit any violations will be paid a percentage of the fines collected, to ensure further use and potential secondary revenue stream. With the sudden increase in (for-profit) citizen policing, we can expect crime rates of misdemeanor crimes go down considerably and quickly, and the streets re-empowered by a community that does not stand for petty crime, and a reliable time-stamped witness video for all.

Prosecutions might be tossed if we don't get a good view of the offender's face (which may be impossible in some cases), but as some moving violations are applied to the vehicle, and not the driver, making the vehicle owner still responsible for paying for the crimes of it's drivers (another reason not to loan your kids your car, ever!) With video evidence on our side, we expect a high prosecution rate, and a new steady stream of income in fines to the jurisdictions where the crimes are occurring. Finally an opportunity to help your own home town by collecting fines!

It'll probably be limited to common moving violations, as the license plate will be required for ticketing, although it could be used to ticket cars (with time stamped evidence) who block or stop traffic. With more advanced facial recognition, we could catch many quality of life crimes like street muggings, sexual assaults, illegal dumping, littering, and reckless driving, and use a list of known felons to alert to suspicious behavior to the police.

February 2019 Update: You might not have a choice in the future, and police may already get access to your public cameras, according to this CEO.

I'm passing on this fantastical idea, mostly due to the technical (accepting millions of live streams, processing GPS data...) and government hurdles (fine competition from private entities) required to bring it to life. I do like the idea of earning a little side money live-streaming video footage of law violations I see daily (and don't we all), and could see how a select opportunistic few could really make a good living with it, handing out repeat violations at commonly found commuter funnels. It appeals to and reinforces NIMBY behavior, and may be compared to 'Big Brother', but is indeed the 50's era 'Neighborhood Watch' brought to the 21st century.