Most Americans Want to Interact Online with Law Enforcement, with Nearly 90 Percent Open to Sharing Evidence via Digital Channels  

Unisys study finds US city dwellers will provide photos, text messages, video, and audio evidence to police as long as privacy concerns are addressed.

PR Newswire

RESTON, Va., Jan. 9, 2018

Nearly 90 percent of residents of four major US cities are willing to use online digital media to submit evidence to law enforcement agencies, suggesting the need for more interactive platforms to promote the exchange of information between police and citizens, according to a new “Safe Cities” survey sponsored by Unisys Corporation.

The global survey, conducted by the research company, YouGov, queried a total of nearly 4,000 respondents in ten cities around the world to gauge their attitudes on a wide range of security-related issues. The US cities covered by the survey were Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. Cities outside of the US covered by the survey were Amsterdam, Mexico City, Rome, Sao Paolo, Singapore, and Sydney.

US city dwellers, like those surveyed in other countries, registered a high level of willingness to use online media to help law enforcement agencies combat crime – with 89 percent stating they would be willing to submit evidence digitally in some form. Further, 79 percent of US respondents said they would be willing to submit digital photos to law enforcement to use as evidence, and 65 percent would be willing to provide evidence via text messaging.

“This survey shows that people in US cities want two-way interaction with law enforcement agencies,” said Mark Forman, global head, Unisys Public Sector. “With today’s Smart Cities initiatives, police departments often invest in digital technologies for one-way activities, like surveillance of city streets and mining social media. This survey indicates that citizens want a secure and reliable two-way street for interaction with police, where citizens can communicate directly using the digital tools they have at their fingertips, such as smartphones, while retaining a degree of control over how and when they engage with law enforcement.”

The new survey provides additional insight to the findings of the 2017 Unisys Security Index survey ( which indicated a growing concern over physical and cybersecurity threats.

The new Safe Cities survey found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would upload evidence on a crime which had just taken place (61 percent), but only 37 percent would allow police to access their PCs to investigate a crime. At the same time, large percentages of US respondents were worried that their messages to police would not reach the right person (44 percent) or that the government’s technology might fail (42 percent).

And, while 60 percent of respondents in the four US cities surveyed support police use of facial recognition and video surveillance for public safety, only 37 percent said they would be willing to accept more government surveillance and monitoring in order to achieve significantly greater personal security.

“The results of this survey tell us that police and other public safety and service agencies should embrace technologies which enable more communication methods and means with the public,” said Forman. “This can have numerous positive effects, such as improved overall relationships and increased case clearance rates. However, they must be used wisely and with an understanding that public trust will necessarily limit the scope and types of devices which will be acceptable.”

To download the report on the global survey results and for more information on Unisys Safe Cities solutions, go to