In the wake of the bombing at last year’s Boston Marathon, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials stepped up their quest to find ways to collect photographic and video evidence from the general public rapidly and efficiently.
“The Boston bombing showed us that we clearly weren’t prepared for a big event,” said Capt. Shaun Mathers of the department’s Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau. “That accelerated our time line on the project.”
Though it launched a nationwide search for a technology to aid in its investigations, the department found the answer was closer than anticipated. Conversations with Culver City’s Citizen Global initiated shortly after the Boston bombing yielded a modified platform called Large Emergency Event Digital Information Repository, or Leedir. The service launched last week.
“It’s an opportunity to have more eyes on site for us,” said Cmdr. Scott Edson of the department’s Technical Services Division, with the ultimate goal to identify potential suspects or suspicious devices as part of an investigation. “In those situations, the flag-waving public wants to catch these terrorists as bad as we do.”
The platform allows witnesses to send photos and videos of major emergencies or crimes to be analyzed by law enforcement.
Nick Namikas, Citizen Global’s chief executive, said the platform had been rolled out to a small number of law enforcement clients so far. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is using the app to examine footage of recent spring break riots in Isla Vista.
Citizen Global’s crowdsourced photo- and video-sharing service had its origins in its co-founders’ work in nonfiction TV production. Namikas said he and co-founders Rob McFarland and Paul Laussier launched Citizen Global in 2009 after realizing the huge potential of online video.
“It became clear to us that the future of media production would be a model in which the audience would be invited to co-create the programming that they were consuming,” Namikas said.
So they built a platform to do just that and patented the technology. To date, the company has received more than $18 million in funding from a pool of private investors, whom he declined to identify. It launched SendUs in June 2013 to focus on brand and media clients.
It has provided its platform to clients such as Singapore Airlines, “American Idol” producer Fremantle Media, Ford Motor Co. and Peugeot. The company also works with political campaigns in Latin America. He declined to say what its revenue was.