Crowd sourcing is a virtual, collaborative process or social undertaking where a group of individuals work together online to complete a shared task or achieve a common goal; this undertaking may be a single event or an ongoing collaboration. Flash mobs are similar in that they involve large numbers of individuals converging for a common purpose. However, flash mobs are often single events and are undertaken in “real life” as opposed to on the Internet, although most of the arrangements take place online prior to the event. Both crowd sourcing and flash mobs are increasing in prevalence and popularity, and the purposes of these collaborations are as diverse as the people who participate in them.

While crowd sourcing can serve a useful purpose, such as gathering and collating live-streamed marine traffic data or solving a community crime problem, it can also be used for disruptive or illegal purposes, such as is the case with mass-distribution of computer viruses. Recently, a group known as “Defense Distributed” initiated a crowd-sourced project aimed at developing a 3-D printable firearm for online distribution.

Unpredictable situations can occur when large groups of individuals converge in one location for a common purpose, as has been seen worldwide in the cases of riots. There is an increasing number of reported instances of criminal activity initiated as flash mobs, and the term “flash rob” is becoming commonplace.

As such, it is becoming increasingly important for law enforcement personnel to be knowledgeable about these phenomena, as well as to have the capacity for monitoring and intercepting them. Our training will teach law enforcement personnel how to locate information relating to crowd-sourced projects and flash mobs, as well as how to monitor, intercept and prevent criminal activity, and how to profile the individuals behind the activities.

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