Sun | May 24, 2020

Smartphone app new frontier in reporting crime

Published:Monday | December 16, 2019 | 12:16 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

A smartphone-based application is expected to open a new frontier in the anonymous reporting of crime right at the fingertips of the public.

Launched last week, 311tips.com underwent rigorous evaluation over three years to ensure that it was fully functional and cleared the bar of public confidence.

Prudence Gentles, manager of the National Crime Prevention Fund, better known as Crime Stop Jamaica, said that she was hopeful that the app would dispel fears about coming forward with information to help police investigations, though acknowledging that some people would still scared.

Gentles said that Crime Stop had sought feedback from stakeholders and users to build public buy-in.

“The safety of our country is in citizens’ hands, surely. If you see something happen and you are not willing to do something anonymously, you have no right to blame anybody else,” she said.

“Don’t complain that the Government is not doing anything. Crime is everybody’s business. We must all be part of the solution.”

The project was executed in partnership with the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech).

Crime Stop prides itself in having never compromised any of its tipsters over its 30 years of operation.

“All Jamaicans now have the power to report criminal activities anonymously,” said Gentles.

President of UTech, Professor Stephen Vasciannie, handed over the software last Wednesday and urged other organisations to tap UTech’s potential of creating apps to maximise marketing and business development reach. He said that the platform was safe and confidential, preventing the identity and location of the tipster from being revealed.

“We share wholeheartedly in this mission and we are happy to be able to offer intellectual resources and expertise from within our university to provide solutions in an area of national concern.

This partnership comes at an opportune time when our country continues to grapple the scourge of crime and violence,” said Vasciannie, who will be demitting office at year end.

“I encourage persons to use this innovation, and UTech stands ready to offer our expertise to other Jamaican institutions and industries to assist in achieving their respective missions,” he added.

HOW IT WORKS

To access the technology, Jamaicans must open a web browser on their smartphones and enter the address, 311tips.com.

A detailed text box that is highlighted in blue will pop up on screen.

Persons can type in particulars of crimes witnessed. A maximum of 1,000 characters is allowed.

Witnesses in possession of audio, photo and video evidence will have options for uploading those as well.

A unique code will be generated when each tip is sent and is important for collecting rewards if the information leads to arrests.

Click the confirm box, then click ‘send’ after writing down your unique code.

When a tip is sent, it is dispatched without an IP address. Tips are not stored on devices. A code or reference number is only shown on the screen and cannot be retrieved from the device. Tips and codes are only sent to Crime Stop, where they are stored.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com