Monday, August 12, 2019

Mapping Hong Kong Police in Real-Time

Protesters in Hong Kong have widely been using mobile technology in order to try and stay one step ahead of the police. For example the Telegram messaging app has proved very popular with demonstrators in Hong Kong. This is largely due to its security, the ability of users to permanently delete messages and the ease with which group chats can be established and used by groups of protesters.

Another new application being used by protesters in Hong Kong is a live real-time map being used to report the presence of the police. is a crowdsourced map which appears to be designed to report and show the live position of the police in Hong Kong. On the map different emojis are being used to show the location of the police across the city.

Using the map you can report the presence of the police at a location simply by clicking on that location on the map. However reporting privileges are password protected. The instructions appear to suggest that you need Telegram authentication to add data to the map. The instructions also suggest that there is some informal fact-checking taking place on reports and that suspicious users of the map will be banned from reporting to the map.

During some of the biggest protests in Hong Kong Telegram has suffered from distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Presumably the Chinese authorities have attempted to disrupt Telegram's service and take it offline in order to stop it being used by protesters. was released on August 4th and there were over 10,000 users on its first day. Perhaps its real measure of success will come when the Chinese authorities start trying to take it offline.

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