Doing More with Less: Ensuring public safety—there’s an app for that!

screen shot of Indio iphone application interfaceThe Indio (CA) Police Department is highlighted in the second article in our series entitled “Doing More with Less.” The City of Indio faces the type of budget cuts, which although common in today’s economic climate, remain unenviable. With hiring freezes and early retirement incentives a sad reality, severe budget cuts add further strain to a community’s basic patrol and public safety plans and community policing initiatives. However, Chief Bradley Ramos and his team now have an additional resource in identifying and solving crimes in the community— an iPhone app!

The City of Indio iPhone app is free and transforms the most technologically savvy device of the age into a mobile criminal reporting device for city blight and code enforcement violations, as well as providing a portal to download forms and communicate with the Indio Police Department and other city departments in real time.

Although not the first citywide app, it is a comprehensive application, focusing not only on public safety but public works, city administration, community development, and more. The app joins the City of Indio’s website, Facebook page, and newsletters as part of a multi-faceted initiative to connect the community with technology in order to further increase the quality of life for Indio residents.

The utility of a mobile camera, a global positioning system, and wireless internet access makes the application perfect for on-the-go citizen reporting. Users can now—with one click—take a picture of a neighborhood nuisance and relay it to the Police, bypassing dispatch and allowing for clear, effective reporting of crimes in the community. With inbuilt GPS on hand, Indio Police are not only informed about graffiti or a blighted building but will also know the exact location where the photo was taken. Currently, 225 Indio residents have downloaded the app and a public outreach and communication campaign highlighting application features is now underway.

The City of Indio application also serves as an information hub. Residents can make a phone call, view council agendas and calendars, or bring up an e-mail template that will send messages to the Police Chief and City Manager as well as other municipal offices. Other links lead to a variety of city web pages, with links to download forms and view news releases. The app is also frequently used internally by municipal employees to identify and track damaged streets or sidewalks for speedy repair.

As a creation of the City of Indio’s IT Manager, Michael Young, the first version of the app went live in November 2010 with additional versions already in the pipeline. Additional upgrades will include video capability and the ability for residents to upload citizen created reports directly onto police servers via COPSLOGIC—software designed to interface directly with current records management systems for filing these reports alongside police officer written reports.

The iPhone app is available now for download and can be found by searching "Indio" in the iPhone App Store.

The Indio app allows for significant time savings in handling non-emergency calls at a time when patrols may need to be scaled back. More importantly, it allows the Indio Police Department to better reallocate resources, proactively face crime trends, and meet the fluctuating needs of the community. The app epitomizes a true example of the vital role technology plays in doing more with less.

Lydia Nylander
Grant Monitoring Specialist
The COPS Office

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