City Council organizes project S.P.O.T.

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Hattiesburg City Council is working on a plan to make purchasing from online marketplaces safer.  

Project S.P.O.T. is an initiative to provide a safe designated trading location for those who are interested in making an in-person transaction of goods marketed online. This project is designed to combat the potential for crime related to meeting with an unfamiliar person in an unfamiliar area to make a money transaction.

Councilman Nicholas Brown is working with his team to ensure that these safe places for online transactions or “S.P.O.T.s” around the city are well equipped with all of the necessary surveillance equipment to give citizens confidence when making transactions.

“It will be set up to where the city will monitor things in case anything goes south, and if it does, we will be able to go back and look at footage. The safety of our citizens is our number one priority. We want to ensure that if they want to do this, we want to ensure that we are keeping up with the changes in technology.”

“Our main purpose is to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Brown said. “We will have parking spaces set up at numerous police stations and fire stations around the city, a space for the buyer and a space for the seller, and each space will be under constant video surveillance, which will be monitored and archived for thirty days following the transaction.”

Co-project manager Hunter White believes that with internet marketplaces becoming more and more popular among younger crowds, it is important for the city to be proactive in providing more S.P.O.T.s for students.

“We want to find a centralized location that’s available for students to make confident transactions. Essentially, there is a need with the rise of new online trading platforms. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Let Go and other apps like that are on the rise; you are seeing more and more of these online transactions,” Hunter said. “Specifically, with college students, we want to ensure that you can feel safe in Hattiesburg.”

“We are trying to make sure that this is a city they can feel confident venturing out in and not just staying on campus. I know when I was in college, I got a majority of my furniture from Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace,” he said.

According to White, while doing research for Project S.P.O.T., the team took influences from other areas around the country that have already set up something similar in their communities.

“We really focused on San Diego, and we’ve spoken with the team there and got some ideas of how they logistically put it together, more locally Mobile [Alabama] is doing it, Dallas has it, nationally you’ve got Indianapolis, Mesa Ariz., and North Carolina, so there are a lot of nationwide locations. This thing is growing,” White said.

White said the project will start small to gauge interest as research continues, with two or three S.P.O.T.s located in equal distance around the city to ensure all citizens have equal distance to them.

Councilman Brown and his team are expecting to have up and running S.P.O.T.s before next semester for up-and-coming students in the fall.

photo courtesy WDAM