Asborometer

Some clever clogs has produced an iPhone (and other phones, but who cares about them) app which “measures levels of anti-social behaviour at your current location” called ASBORometer. It’s worth mentioning for three reasons:

  1. It demonstrates the ongoing public fascination with anti-social behaviour orders. Part of this is probably the perception that people are ruder and care less for their neighbour than years gone by, and we don’t really know what to do about it. That anti-social behaviour is a crime and that there is an order to try and prevent this demonstrates these points.
  2. It demonstrates how silly statistics are. So your area has a proportionally higher number of anti-social behaviour orders? So what. Maybe the police think ASBOs are a good deterrent in your area. Maybe the police think they aren’t in other areas. Part of this application is a rating of how bad your area is based on people’s perceptions. What does that even mean? If a retirement estate rises up and complains about the four or five houses in the area who are being too noisy is that worse than the estate in central London where no-one complains about anti-social behaviour because on that survey instead of ticking the box saying “I’m afraid of anti-social behaviour” they ticked the box saying “I’m afraid of being shanked”.
  1. This app can only exist because of data.gov.uk an exciting new-ish development in which the government takes public data and puts it online in a machine accessible format. If you’ve ever spoken to me in a pub I may have ranted about why the government should be doing this. They now are. It’s good news for all sorts of reasons. Though the first application someone should design with it is an application that lets you helpfully browse the other applications.