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4 Star General’s Msg

“It’s no wonder the police can’t catch them they have a whole network!”

Gary had just endured 24 hrs of having to deal with threats from several people including attempted assault. He suspected the biggest source of trouble was a guy he’d seen do suspicious things for over two years in and around his property. Gary’s comment triggered my memory to another situation across the world and in another country. It was a reminder of the near disaster that occurred when an entire army had tried to establish law and order in the seemingly lawless country of Iraq.

General Stanley McChrystal was stationed as General in Iraq right when Al Qaeda was at its height of power. The US army had superior firepower, superior technology, discipline, superior financing and a sense of justice on their side. Al-Qaeda appeared to have nothing. But Al-Qaeda was winning on so many fronts it was frustrating. At first why they were having so much success remained a puzzle. Gradually the pieces came together. Al-Qaeda had very little but they did operate a loose informal network that could assemble and disassemble in seemingly minutes. Now that the US army figured out Al-Qaeda’s one material advantage they had to figure out how to neutralize that advantage.

The answers began to become clearer to General McChrystal when he started to assemble the branches of the US army, US intelligence and other branches of the Iraq and US government into what looked like a chaotic mix of meetings. Really, what he was doing was fighting a smaller network (Al-Qaeda) with a larger network (every resource he could get to cooperate!) in a daily giant real time collaboration meeting. Eventually this bigger network grew stronger and better. When everyone was contributing and listening together they busted up the smaller network of Al-Qaeda.

Now think of the people who serve as our protective services. If a single officer tries to catch a criminal often their efforts resemble a much smaller network. Maybe with all the support people the police have together their ‘network’ looks something like this below where only 20–30 people are working together.

Police network supporting criminal chase

But what if the criminal network is bigger? Perhaps all their connections together look more like this?

Sample Criminal network

When the criminals operate a bigger ‘network’ there may be less chance for success because the evidence disappears so quick across the ‘network’.

But let’s suppose there were 2000 people connected to help the police (like the current test called TheftNet on Facebook does). Now the network wouldn’t just be the police. It could be the police with 2000 supporters. The likelihood of that network overwhelming the smaller network (if they are in competition) is high. The larger network can now distribute information faster and more effectively than the smaller network.

Community network combines with police support network

The amazing thing about networks are their effectiveness. It’s almost unbelievable but we’ve had 100% success for every real suspect or face that was caught on a video camera and posted to TheftNet from Jan — May. These results have exceeded our wildest expectations.

If you are part of the TheftNet group on Facebook we thank you for making this network of caring people a network that is stronger than other criminal networks that have come in contact with it! Our membership grew by 17% the last 30 days from 1678 to 2011. How it grew and how it works are almost hard to fathom — but it is working.

Most or all of our readership are ‘laid back’ Canadians. They think (like I often do) that our participation can’t make a difference. But if you follow all this weird language we’ve just used about networks you’ll see why it’s important to get involved. You can be part of the larger network of good people that helps bust up the smaller network of criminals.

We are working hard for the Lightcatch service to revolutionize how communities and organizations can work together to help the police stop crime. Join our mailing list to keep connected with our mission.

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