Finding Sex Offenders Using Your iPhone

Q: Now that I have children, I'm paranoid about registered sex offenders living nearby. Is there a way to keep their locations handy?

OffenderApp.jpgA: By tying data from the sex offender registry to an augmented reality platform and the geolocation capabilities of the iPhone, BeenVerified.com built an application that allows you to hold your phone up as you're walking around your -- or any -- neighborhood and see where convicted offenders are living.

Popular over the Halloween holiday with parents worried about sending their children to the door of a sex offender, the app, Sex Offender Tracker, recently enjoyed a big boost in sales. (Five percent of all proceeds will be donated to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network [RAINN].)

The app can be purchased for $1.99, but only works on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 running iOS 4. A map mode shows registered sex offenders as pins from anywhere within one tenth of a mile to several miles out. And the augmented reality mode allows you to hold your phone up to see the addresses of offenders pop up in whichever direction your point your camera. All of the information available in the registry will also come up on your phone: pictures, names, offenses.

"During a demo ... I was able to pull up the profiles of 35 sex offenders in a one-mile radius of BeenVerified.com's offices on 28th and Park Avenue in Manhattan," wrote Lauren Indvik on Mashable. "A sobering number, to say the least."

The Sex Offender Tracker isn't the first iPhone application to make information from the registry easily available on your phone, but it is the first, as far as we can tell, to incorporate augmented reality. Offender Locator (also $1.99) was one of the top paid apps in the United States back in August 2009. The app generates a Google map populated with offenders' addresses using your current location or the location of one of your contacts.

Tools mentioned in this entry:

More questions? View the complete Toolkit archive.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In