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Sukey takes the kettle off

March 26, 2011

Today was ‘March for the Alternative’, where over 250,000 people are said to have attended. It is the largest public protest since the Iraq war rally in 2003.
The day has been eventful – Fortnum and Mason in Picadilly was occupied by campaigner group UK Uncut; a bonfire was lit in Oxford Circus; Topshop and various banks including HSBC and Santander had its windows smashed; missiles were thrown at the Ritz – and ultimately 38 people were injured, and 75 arrested.
However, this is a great result in comparison to the 24 November protests, where people decided to smash up Milbank, and student Edward Woolaard threw a fire extinguisher from its roof.  Because of these incidents the British media only picked up on the negatives, tarnishing the entire protest and thus causing the core message to be lost. Today’s protest, on the other hand, was considered a huge success and peaceful overall – largely because of better communication between protestors and the police. And this was helped by a nifty new app.
Set up specifically for the smooth running of these London protests, Sukey is a tool – both an app and a twitter account (@SukeyData) –  for protestors to be aware of police presence, in order to avoid kettling (a police containment tactic), unnecessary detention, and injury  – and for people not actually at the protest to keep an eye on what’s going on.
Sukey – the brainchild of a few UCL students – came about during the 9 December protests. Ultimately, it is a tool that makes full use of the present crowd in gathering information which is then analysed and handed back to the crowd. Protestors are kept informed of the official demonstation route togerhter with en-route amenities, such as WiFi, toilets, tube stations, first aid, coffee shops and payphones – and since then, protestors have been able to use the apps to track where police are on maps, in order to avoid kettles and thus raising tempers.
This just goes to show that confusion in a crowd can lead to disaster – but if everybody is in the know, then the crowd can march as one and focus on its main purpose. And therefore, the awesome Sukey is a social media win.

(Photo: via cbcnews.ca)

Today's protest, which is said to have attracted over 250,000 people

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