If Utahns want to spend some money to make their state the U.S. testing ground for using cellphone cameras to tattle on bad drivers, there's an app for that.
"Safety on the roads is a really big deal in Utah. So it looks like a good fit" to be the U.S. testing spot for a free app called "Catch-em," said CEO Gene Goldman. His company currently distributes it in Israel, where it is called Nirsham, and is looking to expand into the United States.
It seeks to raise $50,000 for that through "crowdfunding," or seeking small donations via Indiegogo from people who would like to spread use of the free app. Goldman says whichever state donates the most will become the U.S. launch site and says media coverage and concern about traffic safety in Utah seem to make it a natural.
"Do you notice what happens when a policeman is following someone? They drive better because there is a possibility of being caught," Goldman said, explaining his app. He said his company's app someday could lead to "2 or 3 million people walking around with the ability to capture bad driving."
"It would be a deterrent, because if drivers want to go through a red light or make an illegal U-turn, they know there's a high chance they are going to get caught, and won't do it," he said.
Goldman said his company works with large fleets such as trucking companies, large retail chains or even pizza delivery stores to report problems with their drivers.
It also reports to police. Goldman said images are first uploaded to its website where the public can vote whether what is shown is illegal and dangerous. If the vote is primarily "yes" over a week, it has a "team of experts" view photos and report it to the appropriate police agency.
The app allows pedestrians to capture images manually to report problems from their phones. For drivers, phones can be put in cradles on the dashboard and the app will keep a 20-photo history of what is happening in front of them.
If a driver sees something to report, he can tap the phone's screen and Catch-em will take and keep an additional 10 photos and store them until the driver can safely report them. Examples of what Israelis have been uploading can be seen on the company's Israeli website, http://www.nirsham.co.il.