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It can be tempting to look at the all-powerful, masked vigilantes in movies as the heroes we need to save the world. It’s wired into our culture to venerate such figures, and to hope for them even though we know, of course, that they don’t actually exist.

But even if such entities were real, there would be enormous problems with relying on them to protect us. What we need to protect ourselves is not a savior from outside, but for ordinary people to step up and defend what they care about.

A costumed vigilante would cause many of the same problems as a police force. First off, he or she would be one central authority force, to whom others looked for defense. There’s no need to learn sharpshooting or martial arts when you can just rely on Batman to save you. But just as one problem with government police is that they encourage citizens to simply hide behind the elusive safety of 9-1-1 rather than stand up and defend themselves, so a costumed superhero would encourage people to simply wait for him or her to save them.

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Second, this central authority could not be everywhere, any more than police can. In fact, being one person, his ability to respond rapidly to crimes would be even less than that of police. Batman may be able to clean up Gotham, but he does so by hunting down criminals post-crime, not by stopping them in the middle of hurting their victims. In a crime-ridden city, for every criminal Bruce Wayne stopped in the middle of a crime, ten others would get away. He could hunt them down, but that would be cold comfort to their victims.

What we need is not a central authority figure behind which we can hide. What we need is a fluid, flexible, decentralized protection system that empowers ordinary people to stand up and care for those around them.

Enter Peacekeeper.

Peacekeeper is the world’s first decentralized protection system. It’s an app (version 2.0 is in active development), but it’s more than an app.

Peacekeeper 2.0 is at heart a mindset and a set of tools. First, the mindset. Peacekeepers may be trained in combat or other emergency response, but that alone isn’t enough. Police are trained to fight, and stories of police abuse are erupting across the United States. What sets Peacekeepers apart is their attitude and self-selection.

When you’re in an emergency, you can tap the Peacekeeper app and send an alert to every app user in the area. Some people won’t respond. But the ones who do will be the ones you need. They’ll be the ones who see your situation—be it a robbery or a child drowning in a pool, a sexual assault or a fire—and decide to help. That self-selection is powerful. They’ll come to help knowing what they’re getting into. They’ll be focused on helping you, not just exerting force with no accountability. They’ll have the skills and the dedication to help.

Second, Peacekeeper 2.0 is a set of tools. If you want to stand up and protect your loved ones and your community, those people can use the app to let you know when they’re in danger. This creates a powerful emergency response system in which the right people can see crimes happening around them, in real time, and move to help.

You may have already heard of Peacekeeper. The first version app launched last year. It was a hit, but it also had some glaring problems. Bugs. Small, limited networks. They’ve learned from their mistakes and they’re building Peacekeeper 2.0 to be bigger, more powerful, and more effective at giving people the tools they need to stand up to violence.

Imagine a world with Peacekeeper 2.0. In which you had the tools to protect those around you. Or, if you’re in danger, in which help is as close as the nearest Peacekeeper. In which a decentralized, fluid, flexible cadre of men and women could keep their loved ones and their communities safe—safer than the police are keeping them, safer even than a Marvel hero could.

In the Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne wanted to clean up the city, but not by single-handedly cracking every criminal’s skull. Rather, he wanted to inspire people to stand up to evil themselves. If he were a real character, he’d be a fan of Peacekeeper.

Right now, Peacekeeper 2.0 is just a vision. They’re launching an Indiegogo to fully fund app development and to get the resources to take Peacekeeper to every community in America. If you’d like to help turn this vision into a reality, check out their page and contribute today.

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