On the Streets and in the Neighborhoods: New Tech Tools Affect Greater Communication

In the wake of nationwide protests and continuing calls for racial justice, new tech tools have emerged that are providing individuals with new mediums for communication and taking action: Signal and Citizen. Both are worth a look.

Signal is particularly intriguing. The encrypted messaging service has long been favored by journalists as a means to securely obtain confidential information. As protestors have sought to maintain greater digital privacy, the app has become increasingly popular – even more so as Signal announced it would automatically blur faces in images before they were shared. As reported in Qz.ocm, the shift to encrypted messages was born among protestors in Hong Kong with an app called Telegram. Signal provides an even greater anonymity because it does not store metadata related to message senders or receivers nor their geographic locations.

Citizen, in recent days among the nation’s top downloaded apps, scans police communications and serves as a community safety platform through its social networking component. It is not, however, without its detractors, including FastCompany.com, which recently reported that while the first-person view of the protests can be inspiring, Citizen can “devolve into shouting matches” or spread disinformation. Such has been the case with neighborhood-watch app Nextdoor, and false reports regarding antifa.

As our country searches for ways to come together, these new applications, while often imperfect, appear to be a step in the right direction in promoting dialogue, community and platforms designed to inform and unify. Their newfound use and proliferation are born of our times. One can hope they continue to affect positive change in the days ahead.