Since 2011, Enid Police Department has received more than 4,000 tips and follow-ups since it adopted the TipSoft program. This past February (2016) a tip helped Enid PD uncover a sophisticated marijuana growing operation in an unassuming neighborhood.
TipSoft is an anonymous mobile platform in use by local police departments to engage citizens in the processes of collecting and communicating public safety information. TipSoft is a PublicEngines product developed and maintained by Motorola Solutions. TipSoft allows private citizens to carry on anonymous two-way conversations with the agency without requiring them to speak directly to an officer. TipSoft supports users’ ability to submit videos or photographs using the TipSoft mobile app. TipSoft can be used to submit information on crimes, missing children, fugitives, and other non-emergency situations. Motorola Solutions asserts that TipSoft, nationwide and as of 2014, received more than two million tips, resulting in 145,000 arrests, 55,000 fugitives caught, and more than $5.3 billion recovered in drugs and property.
The tips received by the department are viewed by the police chief, the captains of each of the department’s divisions, members of the investigative services division and narcotics unit and patrol supervisors. Information exchanged is encrypted and the police department sees no personally identifiable information on the tipster. The service specifically allows smart phone users to remain anonymous by encrypting the messages, assigning them a unique alias and ID, and routing them through secure servers, protecting the personal details of the information provider. “Prior to TipSoft, the only way to contact the police was by phone, email or in person. The only way to remain anonymous was to call and ask that your name not be used,” Lt. Tim Jacobi said.
“People had a hard time imagining that we would truly allow them to remain anonymous. With the technology that TipSoft provides, people are a lot more comfortable. It’s really opened the door for people who may not have stepped out and said anything before.”
Impact question: Customer reviews are generally negative for the generic TipSoft mobile app. However, the city specific versions of this application are more highly rated. Are the city specific versions of tip line mobile application more highly rated based upon application features or because significantly more value is gained by end-users when their use is tied to a geographic location?