The new free mobile App will encourage greater community engagement at very low cost, within a framework of governance and without wasting police time. It also aims to empower local residents to fight crime in a safe and monitored environment.
Chief Superintendent Gavin Stephens, Head of Neighbourhood Policing for Surrey Police commented, The application has been tested extensively for compliance with the stringent requirements of Apples App Store. It reaches the bar we set for it of allowing local residents to interact with Surrey Police in a variety of modern ways, while reducing the demand on emergency calls by providing one-click access to local rate phone numbers, social and email engagement mechanisms as well as crime reporting facilities from Crimestoppers.
Angus Fox, Director at Multizone commented, We facilitated a workshop at the start of the process to bring all the Surrey Police disciplines including operational policing, marketing communications, and information technology together. This was crucial in ensuring widespread support for the resulting software developed and was a necessary prerequisite for the adoption of the technology. The software platform is made up of several applications and services integrated using open social networks and data. These allow Surrey Police to be able to demonstrate the feasibility of community engagement with the public in a cost effective way.
The policing part of the mobile application has been in trials by police staff and officers in Runnymede since March 2011, thanks to the generosity of Vodafone and Huawei who provided low cost, high quality, Google Android based Smartphones for the trials. This avoided issues of procurement of new or different mobile devices in constrained times saving potential delay and keeping the project low cost and feasible.
For todays public release, a wider Surrey perspective is introduced into the application, with the location and directions to the nearest police station to the location of the phone as well as contact mechanisms and updates, photos and videos about the activities of the force available at one tap of the screen. Additionally new sources of local open police data were integrated into the mobile application along with street level crime data from the Police API.
Fox continues, The App will provide valuable data to the public as comparisons can be drawn by ward area, with breakdown of intervention activities against borough crime statistics. A visualization engine shows local police activity clustered on the map. We also added the ability to openly rate the local priorities set by Surrey Police or suggest alternatives. The comments and ratings are displayed openly via Twitter, the real time network for public activity streams.
The Surrey Police application is available for free download from the Apple App Store. The application is built using Appcelerator Titanium, the only platform Multizone felt could provide a professionally supported fully native, cross-platform development environment for native apps, from a single codebase, for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. A wider rollout will see the public and policing apps extended to these other smartphone platforms.