THE FOUR AGES
OF PUBLIC SAFETY IN CHICAGO
PAST - PRESENT - FUTURE
(CLICK ON THE GRAPHIC TO VIEW EACH ROW)
THIS graphic READS IN TWO WAYS:
ROWS AND COLUMNS
FOUR ROWS (Shown above) Each row surveys the public safety strategy of an AGE from the standpoint of its
Recognized PUBLIC SAFETY STRATEGY and desired outcomes
Primary or dominant MEDIA and their modes of response to violence: crime story reporting force or problem-solving dialogue
Power Source: Top Down (City Hall and Law Enforcement) and/or Bottom Up (citizen participation)
FOUR COLUMNS (Shown below) Each column surveys an EVOLUTIONARY TREND
COLUMN 1 tracks the trend from passive towards interactive uses of media in addressing public violence. It also tracks the problematic impact of interactive media on public safety (due to media focus on covering violence as opposed to facilitating safety).
COLUMN 2 tracks the gradual and now citywide spread of youth-centered, digital-age violence in Chicago since its eruption in poor, non-white neighborhoods in the 1960's
COLUMN 3 Surveys the evolutionary trend away from total police responsibility for public safety towards more citizen participation and responsibility for public safety
COLUMN 4 tracks the evolution of the TWO MODES (violent/non-violent) of public safety away from violence (police force) towards non-violence (public health and citywide dialogue). Today, this constructive trend is poised to begin reversing the growth of citywide violence tracked in COLUMN TWO.
SEEN FROM A DIGITAL-AGE PERSPECTIVE,
chicago's public safety HISTORY is
a tale of two ages
Industrial and DIGITAL
reading the graphic
THE GRAPHIC SURVEYS THE LAST 100 YEARS OF PUBLIC SAFETY IN CHICAGO from a Digital Age, media-centered perspective. Its four media-defined ages reflect the premise that Chicago is a city in a substantially and increasingly media-driven society. Working from this premise, the graphic identifies the in-place public safety strategy of a given age and correlates it with the age's cutting-edge media. This correlation points to the roles that Chicago's media - the city's de facto public communications system - have played, are playing and will play in the future to make Chicago either violent or safe.
THE GRAPHIC SHOWS FOUR EVOLUTIONARY TRENDS. The alarming trend towards citywide violence shown in column 2 is offset by the encouraging trend towards citizen inclusiveness and involvement in public safety depicted in columns 3 and 4. And underlying all three trends is the dominant trend in column 1 tracing Chicago's evolution (or transformation) in the past century from reportial media towards networked media. In this short time Chicago has evolved from a media-informed and in fluenced, industrial-age city to a media-driven and now polarized digital-age city. From the standpoint of media's relationship to the city, Chicago is evolving from citizen dependence on media (for news and information about public safety) to a point where citizens and media are be mutually interdepen- dent for the maintenance of public safety. Absent this interdependence, it seems clear to us that Chicago's unchecked (and media-exacerbated) downward spiral in violence is certain to continue unchecked.
Practically speaking, this evolution from at top-down reportorial media towards a top-down/bottom-up mediating media exists today as a mere potential. Its realization depends on Chicago's response, negligent or attentive, to the safety-generating power of the digital media whose networks have already transformed life as we know it in the fields of business and personal communications.
THE GRAPHIC SHOWS CHICAGO AT A PUBLIC SAFETY CROSSROADS TODAY Like other modern cities, Chicago has hardly begun come to terms with transformative impact on public safety of the ubiquity PCs and cell phones in the city. Virtually all Chicagoans now own them. This fact, coupled with the ubiquity of security cameras, police dashboard and body cams, automatically obsolesces all traditional approaches to public safety. It furthermore makes the general public substantially responsibility for the safety of their home, blocks, neighborhoods and city. Public safety is now a matter of citizenship: a matter of the sense of belonging to a neighborhood or city that makes residents feel responsible for it. In digital-age Chicago, this sense of belonging is strengthened only when owners of personal (mobile and PC) media and mainstream (commercial and public) media are working together to advance the digital-age goal of making Chicago SAFE.