The Manchester (N.H.) Police Department will begin supporting Ping4's Citizens Alerts app, a notification tool that brings a variety of public safety alerts to smart phones within a jurisdiction.
Manchester officers will begin sending alerts today about crimes in progress, dangerous storms, missing people, traffic gridlock, and other public-safety emergencies.
The hyper-local "geo-location" app is similar to Nixle or Twitter, yet it offers the department greater flexibility because alerts can be sent to users who don't "follow" the agency, Chief David Mara told POLICE Magazine.
"It's going to be a good tool for us to keep the public informed," Chief Mara said. "It's an overall concept in community policing to keep the public informed. Let them know what you are doing. Try to reach out and get their help."
Chief Mara said various members of his 210 sworn personnel will input alerts using Ping4's proprietary software. Personnel could include a detective seeking leads on a case, a traffic unit officer alerting drivers about a gas leak, or a dispatcher with suspect description information.
The Citizens Alerts app provides users real-time emergency messaging within defined geographic areas that can be as small as a parking space or as large as a continent. Police can now alert citizens in specific, tightly defined locations such as along a subway line, along a highway, in a specific store or shopping mall, or an entire city or state.
The app also enlists help from the community in solving crimes via an anonymous A-Tip feature. The app has the ability to wake up the phone in extreme emergencies with an audio alert.
The Citizens Alerts app features local merchant deals and offerings through its Citizens Rewards program. It also includes a search tool with compass and mapping information.
The free app works over GPS and cellular networks as well as in Wi-Fi hot spots. The app doesn't tap data-plan minutes or place undue strain on a smart-phone battery. Citizens Alerts is available via Apple's iTunes App Store or the Android Marketplace.
By Paul Clinton