In the past, finding out where and when a crime occurred could be very difficult. Curious civilians and reporters would have to comb through state records or call a local police officer. Photos would have to be taken after the fact, or if by sheer chance a photographer was on the scene with their camera when a crime happened.

However, according to an article in SF Gate, current technology has changed the landscape completely. Cell phone cameras, smartphone apps and social media and blog postings have made a “Little Brother,” rather than Big Brother, society. Cameras are indeed everywhere, but they belong to individuals rather than the government or law enforcement.

For instance, a cursory search on the iTunes app store reveals dozens of apps allowing people to view real-time crime statistics and information, listen in to police scanners and determine if sex offenders live in their neighborhood.

Police departments are now encouraging individuals who took pictures or video of a crime on their cell phone to contribute them anonymously to help the police in their investigation of the incident. Even when the witness doesn’t directly submit their photo or video to the police, posting the information online to public social media or blogs can still help police.

The in-depth report can be found on SF Gate.