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Archive for Monday, February 23, 2004

Briefcase

February 23, 2004

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Cell phone messages used to nab criminals

Germany is enlisting citizens with cell phones in the search for criminals and missing people.

Starting this week, cell phone subscribers who have signed up to participate in Germany's voluntary search program will receive a text message from police containing information about manhunts in the area and a number for tipsters to call.

Authorities gave the following example of the kind of message that could be sent: "Bank robbery, police searching for two men in their 30s. Jeans, black jackets, fleeing in a brown BMW 5 series, Dortmund plates. Tips to 110."

Eleven German police districts have been using the system since September 2002. Interior minister Otto Schily approved it last week for nationwide use.

Police hope that bus, taxi and streetcar drivers will participate because they are in position to monitor activity in the streets.

Survey

Rural residents still lag behind in high-tech times

Use of the Internet in rural communities has increased, but still lags that of city dwellers and suburbanites, according to a new survey.

Fifty-two percent of rural residents in 2003 said they use the Internet, compared with 67 percent of urbanites and 66 percent of people in suburbs, according to a report this week by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The nonprofit group conducted its surveys between March and August.

When Pew first conducted surveys on the topic in 2000, only 41 percent of people living in rural areas said they used the Internet, compared with 51 percent of urban residents and 55 percent of suburbanites.

Some of the gap may be explained by the fact that older people make up bigger shares of rural populations, and incomes and education levels are generally lower than in cities and suburbs, according to Pew.

Among the other findings:

  • Rural users are less likely to do banking and shopping online, but more likely to look for religious and spiritual information.
  • About 29 percent of Internet users in rural areas said their Internet service provider is the only one available to them, compared with 7 percent of urban users and 9 percent of suburban users.

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