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According to the FBI’s preliminary semiannual crime statistics report for the first half of 2013, both violent and property crimes are actually down slightly from where they were at the same time in 2012. But to anyone watching the evening news, it might seem like things are worse than they’ve ever been. No matter how safe you feel in your community, it never hurts to have a little extra protection and technology comes to the rescue with some apps that may help.

Making use of your smartphone’s camera functionality could make all the difference in a potentially harmful situation and the iWitness app definitely stands out. Touted as the only app of its kind that records both audio and video, iWitness also does a whole lot more. One touch of the app arms the system, and if you’re feeling unsafe another tap starts the recording process. That data, along with your GPS location is sent to a server to be used by authorities if necessary. If the situation escalates, another single tap dials 911 and also alerts up to six pre-set contacts. If your phone is wrestled from your hand, the sudden motion will automatically dial the police as well. A light flashes and an alarm sounds once the app is engaged. The idea is that if someone intending to do you harm knows they are being recorded, it may deter the act. The app is available for iPhone and Android and is free to download, but there is a $2.99/month subscription fee. For those folks that work late nights or just want to feel a little safer walking to their car alone, that might be a small price to pay for peace of mind.

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An app in the planning stages in Jackson, MS could be the model for an effective tool to fight crime across the country. ‘Stop the Silence’ is an app and an overall concept introduced by Councilman Tony Yarber to try to combat the “stop snitching” culture that is predominant in so many urban areas. Yarber says that “What we found is that people will (talk), but they want to be safe doing it.” The Stop the Silence app would allow people to anonymously report bullying, gunplay, violence, and drug use directly to police. The app would be targeted towards students, and the Mayor’s Youth Initiative and students from schools around the area will contribute to the app’s development. The unfortunate phenomenon of smartphone videos showing various fights and attacks on unwitting citizens could end up actually helping someone in distress or bringing offenders to justice. Personally, I hope this project gets fast-tracked through Jackson’s council channels and gets shared in cities across the U.S.

Tracking crime is one way to identify ways to fight it more effectively, and an app that tracks hate crimes had made its way onto smartphones this year. CombatHate was developed in conjunction with the Simon Wiesenthal Center Digital Terrorism and Hate Project, which monitors hate worldwide. The app is aimed at teens and the goal is to raise awareness and promote tolerance. Data from the app can also be provided to law enforcement officials and track patterns and trends of hate groups. Users are encouraged to snap a picture or submit a description of observed hate in their area. You can see some “just in” submissions, and there are examples of hate sites and games to look out for. Contrary to popular belief, we are a global village, and it will take the efforts of all of us to try to bring peace and harmony to the world. CombatHate is free and available for iOS and Android.

Follow tech-life expert Stephanie Humphrey on Twitter.