Harris County Sheriff's deputies discovered a marijuana field in southern Harris County with plants worth $125,000, thanks to a tip from a user of the iWatchHarrisCounty smartphone app. All the plants were destroyed, according to a release from the department.
I wrote about this app back in 2011 and described it as poorly designed. It was. But in this case it appears it paid off since the app led to the discovery of an entire field of weed -- what hippies call a "field of dreams," or maybe I'm making that up.
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But, back on point, this magical forest of pot was discovered through an app and that is pretty significant because despite all our technological advances, most people still do not use things like apps and the Internet to report crimes or deal with city issues. And while this may lead some to believe apps and Web sites are a waste of taxpayer money, I for one think being ahead of the curve is important.
Many of the technologies we take for granted today were once considered silly. People used to have to dial through an operator to get to anyone. City services were a web of confusion before the 311 number was initiated. They are still confusing, but at least you don't have to look up a million numbers just to find out how to get a water leak repaired. Bills that once had to be mailed can now be automatically paid online: from license tag renewals to traffic tickets.
iWatchHarrisCounty may not be up to the standards of the typical smart phone user, but it can be an effective tool to fight crime. Sure, if there's a serious crime going on, 911 is still your best bet. But I imagine there aren't too many better ways to report suspicious activity than through an app, particularly because photos can be included.
I'm all for the adoption of new technology by our government officials if it actually works. In this case, it did.