THE launch of a crime symposium last Friday marked a turning point in our efforts to address the crime situation in Saint Lucia. By all accounts thus far, it was a fine day for peace, pride, and collaborative working in our country.
Minister of National Security, Hermangild Francis, formerly a senior police officer, acknowledged that he could not do the job alone, and thanked Leader of the Opposition, Phillip J. Pierre, for originating the idea for the symposium. In televised remarks, Minister Francis embraced the power of shared ideas and dismissed the old-fashioned notion of people believing that they possess all the information.
Based on the unified front, acknowledgement that crime is a multi-faceted social problem, and a clear signal that we are serious in fighting crime, we should applaud the stance taken by our leaders to do something about the crime problem. After all, if criminals can collaborate to commit their crimes, then the rest of society should likewise commit to engaging in discussions to devise solutions.
In our internet-connected world, the gathering of ideas to improve knowledge or devise solutions is referred to as crowdsourcing, and relies on motivating others to engage in tasks that can benefit from the massively parallel effort which leads to a solution. In workplaces where a suggestions box is available to contribute ideas for improved service, the benefit of feedback and others’ ideas is already well-known.
Unfortunately, there is a related problem that must be tackled to effectively use crowdsourcing. The ideas being generated must be processed, ranked, filtered to eliminate duplicates, and so on. The idea generation task can itself lead to a data manipulation and processing task!
In his famous book, “The Mythical Man-Month”, Fred Brooks noted that adding people to a late software project makes it later, which is explained by the “combinatorial explosion” of the pathways required for communication between more people. Still, crowdsourcing has shown that we have another potent weapon in our fight against crime, as long as we are prepared to take action.
To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.
(About the Author: Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant offering expertise in data management, systems design and analysis.)