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This article is part of an occasional series that looks at the sociological impact of wireless technology on our daily lives. The casual day to day routines that once kept neighbours connected have  largely been replaced by life lived online. But at what cost?  This report looks at how it is algorithms that more often alert authorities that something is amiss. 



Anomalies in online ordering patterns often the first indicator of a problem

Long-time Scarborough resident Iris Brooks reacted with surprise when informed that her next-door neighbour Jim Denhim was found deceased in the basement of his modest 1950's-era bungalow on the quiet crescent where he had lived for decades. Asked for a comment Iris responded  "I can't remember the last time I actually saw Jim, but then again, I rarely see any of my neighbours anymore so I didn't think much of it."  

Amazon Monitor (AM) flagged Mr. Denhim's Prime account after algorithms detected a sudden interruption in his online ordering activity.  Further surveillance by an Amazon unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with heat and motion sensors revealed no life inside the home.  Local authorities were subsequently notified.  Mr. Denhim's body was found slumped in a chair in front of his screens.  There were no obvious signs of trauma and the case is considered closed.

So who was Jim Denhim?  A Google search revealed nothing.  I asked Iris if there was anything at all she could remember about her neighbour. "Well, he was a handy sort as I recall.  He took it upon himself to modify the old milkbox on the driveway side of his house to make it easier for the drones to deliver his medications.  It was even insulated and climate-controlled!"

"Oh, and he once had a dog but it died. "

(To view the art that accompanies this story, click here.)

Text and images © 2019 Anne Winter. All rights reserved.

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