Monday, April 12, 2010 - By Ben Berkowitz - 6 comments
The recent spate of violence in the Newhallville and Dixwell neighborhoods of New Haven is reminiscent of my childhood here in the early 90's. Some of the 8 murder victims of the last weeks are my peers. Late 20's early 30's gang members out of prison out and looking to regain control of their neighborhoods. Last Saturday evening police flooded the neighborhood to try and curb the violence with 15 extra units. They left the neighborhood at 3:00 am. At 4:00 Am two men were shot to death.
On the other side of this 120,000 person town you would not know that there was a "crisis level" turf war occurring right unless of course you read the local news. The comments section of both nhregister.com and newhavenindependent.org are filled with comments from residents feeling helpless and sending their sympathies to families of the victims to people feeling righteous in their decision to live in the suburbs. I can't help but think that , despite some of the truly nasty and insensitive comments on these forums, having a place for people to express their true feelings on local tragedy is important.
Having a good forum for expressing our concerns might actually be the the first technical implementation of a solution. As someone who has seen communities solve problems with technology and social enterprise I find myself looking to this situation and wondering if there are others modern solutions that did not exist when I was growing up in the 90's.
One might suggest that acting on the broken windows theory with tools like SeeClickFix might curb long term violence and crime. (This also happens to be the neighborhood where 40 street lights were out for two years)
That's one solution but clearly not the ultimate one. (SeeClickFix has existed for two years in New Haven and we still have urban violence). I am curious if anyone has thoughts or suggestions as to new solutions that might resolve this persistent problem. It might seem wildly idealist that I believe that there is a technical solution, but to not question its existence would be irresponsible as social entrepreneurs.
So let's have it. There are wars going on in our neighborhoods that are so accepted that they get substantially less press than a single murder
As technologists we have disrupted the music industry, publishing, the media and government. What is the business that is going to disrupt gang violence and can you create it?
Please share this and offer thoughts.
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