Fake news might start online, but it can have serious offline consequences for businesses, individuals and communities. While social networks have to tackle the problem of misleading or inflammatory content, there also needs to be a way to mitigate its effects in the real world. That’s where Vizsafe comes in, by providing a platform for people on the ground to report on the accuracy or otherwise of information that – if left unchecked – could result in unnecessary concern, disruption and lost revenues.
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News that Cambridge Analytica, a UK data analysis and communications firm, may have manipulated voters in the 2016 US Presidential Election with carefully-targeted misinformation has placed intense scrutiny on Facebook as a distributor of propaganda and ‘Fake News’. While speculation and rumor online is nothing new, there is the growing danger that misinformation starts to have an impact on businesses and individuals. Consider that in September 2016, Donald Trump tweeted that a bomb had gone off after an explosion in New York, with Hillary Clinton soon following suit. The event became a launch pad for various terrorism speculation, but it later became clear that the explosion had not been terror-related at all. The narrative was based on a false premise. For this reason, big tech firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter could soon be held liable for certain posts on their platforms and laws proposed in the UK last year could lead to heavy fines if such content is not removed quickly.
Eyes on the ground
Currently, Vizsafe has a ‘geoaware’ solution that helps to mitigate this risk with actionable intelligence. Already in use at some of the world’s most valuable facilities, including municipalities, sports and entertainment venues, schools and universities, Vizsafe’s platform aggregates, maps and distributes visual data from smartphones and other sensor networks. Vizsafe users can easily post, map and share incident reports from their phones with photos, videos and messages, providing real-time information that can improve response and reduce risk. This proven solution links these user submitted reports with security camera feeds and other critical sensor data to deliver total domain awareness for its customers.
Everyday, customers like Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL’s New England Patriots, rely on Vizsafe for their security, risk mitigation and facility maintenance needs. Using Vizsafe’s platform and mobile app, reports can be validated immediately, which accelerates response and avoids the potentially far-reaching consequences of misinformation. The idea is to encourage staff, partners and visitors alike to report potential problems in real-time, giving the venue ‘eyes on the ground’.
What Vizsafe enables is real-world verification of a threat or, conversely, early indications that all is in fact well. And while a single report may not have enough legitimacy or reliability to put minds to rest, the fact that intelligence is crowdsourced and submitted by many different individuals gives it far greater credibility. In a world where a hoax, false alert or misunderstanding can spark a panic just as effectively as a real threat, Vizsafe can be used to ensure the response is measured.
With smartphone cameras in hand, the crowd itself has become the most powerful sensor network available, which is why Vizsafe set its sights on how best to harness this resource for community safety. Now, Vizsafe is preparing to launch a new, fully public version of this app that will enable anyone to report issues they see, whether in a sports and entertainment venue, in their place of work or around their neighborhood. And, while it features the same powerful functionality as the existing app – aggregating, filtering, mapping and displaying data, and alerting the appropriate teams – it also incorporates a game-changing new feature.
Blockchain and Doing Well by Doing Good
Using the blockchain, Vizsafe is integrating a reward token into its platform to create a decentralized peer-to-peer ledger of crowdsourced safety reports worldwide. The SPOT token will incentivize citizens to upload reports within a given municipality or facility, or concerning a particular issue. When a reported issue has been addressed, a member of the appropriate organization or agency can flag it as ‘resolved’ using the same app. Assuming the report was legitimate, the person who uploaded it automatically receives a SPOT reward to their smartphone. This encourages people to ‘be the change they want to see’ in their communities, rather than walking on by.
While it’s down to Facebook and other social networks to police their own platforms, it is their interface with the real world that Vizsafe is so well placed to deal with. For example, people with first-hand knowledge or footage of a major incident will be able to upload this to give the authorities and first responders a better idea of what was happening on the ground – rather than forcing them to rely on hearsay, rumor and inaccurate social media reports. More routine use cases would involve reporting general safety hazards, such as a fallen tree on a powerline, broken glass on a sidewalk, pollution spills or even a lost dog, thereby saving both public and private organizations time and money, while improving community well-being. Consensus is delivered, recorded, and verifiable in the blockchain by the Vizsafe platform, whether it’s the existence of a threat or an ‘all clear’ message, Vizsafe offers a valuable and more credible counterpoint to other online sources.
To find out more about the forthcoming blockchain-powered version of Vizsafe’s safety crowdsourcing platform and to learn how their members are doing well by doing goodTM, visit https://www.vizsafe.com/blockchain.