Alpharetta, GA, officers are now using Smart Cards that allow a citizen to scan a QR code. - PHOTO: City of Alpharetta

Alpharetta, GA, officers are now using Smart Cards that allow a citizen to scan a QR code.

PHOTO: City of Alpharetta

Police in Alpharetta, GA, are replacing traditional business cards with technology through their use of the Police Smart Card platform. Officers now are equipped with a card containing a QR code the public can scan.

Earlier this week the Alpharetta Police Department received recognition from Smart Card in connection to being the first in the nation to implement the program. For the past few months, the agency has partnered with Montana-based Police Smart Card on a first-of-its-kind pilot to replace police officers’ business cards with fully featured smart cards, a City of Alpharetta press release explains.

The cards enable a citizen to scan a QR code on the card to access a police officer’s badge information, download a vCard with the officer’s contact information and a case number, and even a survey the citizen can complete to provide feedback on their interaction with the officer.  Citizens who have been the victim of a crime can also more easily share information with police officers assigned to their case.  The cards are also near-field communication (NFC) enabled so a citizen can access all the features by simply tapping the card with their smartphone.

One of the goals of the program is to make it easier for citizens to get to know the police officers and build positive, more personal relationships so they are not just a person in a uniform.  According to department officials, those relationships are key to improving the perception of the police among the public.

“There is a concept called police legitimacy that essentially states that we can be effective in policing a community only so long as the public allows us to do so, and they will only allow us to police the community if they see us as legitimate,” says Capt. Mike Stewart, who has been leading the rollout of the smart card project.  “Legitimacy comes from transparency, and we see the smart cards as a way to be even more transparent while also making it easier for the public to interact with us.  If you have a good interaction, we want to know.  If you have a not so good interaction, we want to know, and in either case, we want it to be easy for you to tell us because that makes it easier for us to identify issues we need to address.

Stewart explained that the smart card platform also makes it easier for the department to obtain and analyze data on each officer’s performance and public interactions, which will help the city better understand how each officer is performing in the field, customize training for each officer, and improve performance and interactions across the agency.

“We see this as a big step into the future for policing, and it is exciting to know that agencies across the country are watching what we are doing with this program in Alpharetta and what they can learn from us,” Stewart says.

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