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"Most Wanted" App Brings Gamers Into Hunt For Suspects

posted 5 Jul 2013, 04:49 by Mpelembe   [ updated 5 Jul 2013, 04:50 ]

Police in Warsaw have come up with an innovative way to enlist the public in their hunt for wanted criminal suspects, by incorporating a rogue's gallery of faces as part of a fun smartphone app which tests player's memory for faces.

 (POLISH NATIONAL POLICE) -  Polish police are advertising a new application for smartphones, which uses common memory games mechanisms to help identify wanted persons.

Called the "Most Wanted" app, it was developed by creative agency DDB Warsaw. The game challenges the user to match pairs of photographs from arrest warrants, measures the time taken, and registers the highest scores, like most online games. The innovative approach is using a game principle normally associated with colourful, playful pictures, not wanted criminals. But it's proving highly popular and police believe it will help them catch suspected criminals.

"In a normal, standard, memory game, which we can remember from childhood not even on smart phones or computers, pairs of similar pictures need to be matched. Instead of using childish pictures, we use faces of the most dangerous criminals and the game is about matching as many identical faces of criminals. The person who makes the best time ranks first. Adding the element of competition encourages people to play. Over the last two days the game was played 3,000 times," saidMiron Mironiuk, advisor to DDB.

Both the police and developers of the application hope that frequent visual contact with updated images of wanted persons will embed those images in the player's memory and raise the probability of them being identified on the street. Users who do recognise a suspect can either phone the police emergency line or send an e-mail directly to the police's mailbox using the app.

"At the beginning of the year, there were six million smartphones and experts predict that by the end of the year it will reach over 13 million. We decided together with the Police to take advantage of this and that is why we prepared the game forsmartphones, which uses the mechanisms of memory training games to involve people in the problem of searching for the most wanted criminals," Mironiuk added.

A surprisingly high number of fugitives wanted by police are caught thanks to information provided by citizens, says police officer Piotr Bieniak, who was in charge of the 'Most Wanted' app's development from the side of the Polish police force.

"There are around 36 thousand criminals wanted in Poland at the moment. Almost half of those have had arrest warrants published," Bieniak said.

"It is believed that every fifth arrest is made as a result of information from citizens. So we hope that the high popularity of new technologies in the society will also contribute to the arresting of the most dangerous criminals," he added.

According to its authors, the Most Wanted app is the first application of this type in the world. It is available for Android and Apple devices.