App brings crime location data to police iPhones

SafetyNet Mobile Insight combines GPS, crime data to let officers know what's happened in a house

A new smart phone application lets police tap into local databases of criminal records in conjunction with the Global Positioning System to give officers information on what has happened inside a residence.

The app, SafetyNet Mobile Insight, will let officers point their iPhones at a home and see what has previously been reported from the address, according to an article at Govtech.com.

Police departments in the neighboring cities of San Mateo and Burlingame, Calif., put the app through a 90-day trial. Lt. Wayne Hoss of the San Mateo Police Department provided Govtech.com with the example of a missing child report where an officer could scan the neighborhood with his phone and find out if any nearby residents were registered sex offenders.

“We went though about 20 to 30 software changes as the officers found different needs,” Hoss told Govtech. “Now we have got it down to a product that they could resell to customers and roll it out departmentwide.”


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Hoss also said that he could teach an officer how to use the application in less than five minutes.

Other functionalities of the app allow for video chat, which has the potential to be of great use between officers and between officers and victims of crimes. The use of GPS by the app can track how far police officers are from the scene of a crime after it has been reported.

The app is available on the iPhone, which 70 percent of San Mateo officers already own, according to the report. It can be secured with a virtual private network access and can be wiped remotely if the phone is lost or stolen. Records data is not kept on the phone (it taps into a database where it is stored), so a phone could not be hacked to provide access to sensitive data stored on the device itself.

Currently the app only works within San Mateo’s database, but future versions could be used by larger police forces such as state police or federal agencies such as the FBI with a national database.


About the Author

Dan Rowinski is a staff reporter covering communications technologies.

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