The Network Effect – The profound and positive impact on community engagement

Abstract: The capacity to access collective intelligence is the defining transformative phenomenon of the Digital Age. This digital transformation has given rise to what is best known as The Network Effect: the fundamental shift from information hierarchies to information networks. And those who have the courage to embrace the network effect quickly discover that hierarchies are no match for networks, especially when it comes to efficient and effective community policing and public engagement strategies.


The CRIMEWATCH Network is Making Communities Across Pennsylvania Safer. 

Simply put, the network effect is a phenomenon that occurs when a good or service increases its value as more and more people use it.  When the network effect occurs, its intrinsic, positive value to a civil society is immeasurable. A classic example is the telephone.

Today, the phenomenon is occurring across Pennsylvania right before our very eyes. Through rapid police department deployments across the Commonwealth, and public engagement levels never seen before, the CRIMEWATCH network is not only expanding rapidly, it’s proving to be more valuable to the police departments and the communities they serve and protect, than ever expected.

A New and Transparent Dialogue

The original goal of the CRIMEWATCH digital platform was to empower members of the Pennsylvania law enforcement community to quickly organize and disseminate public safety information, and to allow the public to report suspected criminal activity. The CRIMEWATCH network provided a new, transparent and two-way communication stream between law enforcement and the communities they serve. 

Local and regional police departments use CRIMEWATCH portals to disseminate news about crimes their departments are investigating, arrests that have been made, suspects and fugitives being sought, public service announcements, missing-person alerts, court-case outcomes and other law enforcement-related information. The information is distributed to the press and  public, from a single entry, through CRIMEWATCH’s vast network of PD websites, connected social media, a widely used mobile application and closed circuit television network.

The Network Effect – In the Beginning

At first, it was Sheriff James Muller in Adams County, followed by the PA Crime Stoppers program and in 2013, a handful of courageous police chiefs (15 to be exact) and one forward-thinking county district attorney, Ed Marsico, Jr., from Dauphin County, made the conscious decision to implement a new, cutting-edge technology: The CRIMEWATCH digital platform.

At the end of 2014, there were 19 unique CRIMEWATCH websites that served 319,172 visitors. The total combined social media reach of these police departments was 845,000 and the platform generated just over 1,000 actionable tips from the public.

(Above) A snapshot of graphically represented CRIMEWATCH Network activity generated from law enforcement content push and resulting online community engagement.

(Above) A snapshot of graphically represented CRIMEWATCH Network activity generated from law enforcement content push and resulting online community engagement.

When CRIMEWATCH released its annual impact report (year ending 2016) to its participating Pennsylvania law enforcement members, the numbers were staggering:

·      CRIMEWATCH continued its rapid growth and expansion, serving over 120+ PA police departments and law enforcement agencies.

·      Unique CRIMEWATCH PD website visitor traffic has surged 1466% since 2014, topping 5,000,000 visitors in 2016.

·      Surpassed expectations in all key performance indicators: unique content generated, public alerts, tips received, warrants distributed, case closures and crime clearances.

·      The total reach of the CRIMEWATCH network surged past 20,000,000 making it one of the largest media distributors in PA.

·      Armed with content from CRIMEWATCH, the public has responded very positively by providing PA police agencies with over 4,246 actionable tips in 2016.
 

DISTRICT ATTORNEY, POLICE CHIEFS UNVEIL NEW CRIME-FIGHTING TOOL

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub

Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub

District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub, accompanied by police chiefs from throughout Bucks County, today announced the countywide launch of CRIMEWATCH, a new online tool designed to give the public direct access to information about crime and public safety issues in their communities.

As of today, 28 Bucks County police departments have active CRIMEWATCH portals as a result of initial funding approved by the Bucks County Commissioners. Members of the public are able to view and interact with those sites through free online subscriptions on their computers and tablets, or on their smartphones through a free downloadable app.

The goal of the CRIMEWATCH digital platform is to enable the Bucks County law enforcement community to quickly organize and disseminate public safety information, and to allow the public to report suspected criminal activity.

“We live in a great community here in Bucks County. CRIMEWATCH reinforces that police / public partnership, and just made it a lot tougher to be a criminal in Bucks County,” Weintraub said at a news conference in Doylestown.

Police can use CRIMEWATCH portals to disseminate news about crimes their departments are investigating, arrests that have been made, suspects and fugitives being sought, public service announcements, missing-person alerts, court-case outcomes and other law enforcement-related information.

Citizens, in turn, can use an interactive tips function to help identify suspects, locate fugitives, report criminal activity or provide other information to police that could help solve crimes. Tipsters have the option, through CRIMEWATCH, of submitting this information anonymously, or to provide their contact information so that police can follow up with them.

 “One of the key hallmarks of CRIMEWATCH is transparency,” Weintraub said at a news conference in Doylestown. “CRIMEWATCH enables police to operate with more transparency while allowing us to have a dialogue directly with our residents.”

CRIMEWATCH allows the public to do the following:

  • Sign up for a free account to receive e-mail alerts about criminal activity, public safety announcement and breaking criminal justice-related news
  • Safely and anonymously submit tips to local law enforcement by clicking a button on the CRIMEWATCH site
  • Easily find and connect with their local police on social media
  • View recent arrests and lists of “most wanted” suspects and fugitives
  • Share public-safety and crime-related information with others through social media
  • Get connected with other law enforcement and public safety resources and services

The value of these law enforcement / public connections was demonstrated in December, after the Bensalem Township Police Department became the first police agency in Bucks County to use the CRIMEWATCH technology.

Within 10 days of launching their CRIMEWATCH portal in late November, Bensalem police made six arrests based on tips submitted by citizens through CRIMEWATCH. Among them were suspects in a home-invasion sexual assault, a hit-and-run that critically injured a bicyclist, and a theft and fraud case involving credit cards.

“Police have always had to work with the community to solve crime. That’s not changing,” Weintraub said. “Through the CRIMEWATCH network, the community can take a more active role in public safety.

“We’re not asking people to become vigilantes; quite the opposite. If you have a tip, or information that could help solve a crime, you can now submit that tip anonymously through the CRIMEWATCH platform,” Weintraub said. “ … This is the end of the `snitches get stitches’ culture. No one should ever feel scared or threatened or intimidated when they have information that they want to share with police.”

Weintraub thanked Scott Forster, director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency, for his role in obtaining a homeland security grant to fund CRIMEWATCH for all county police departments for at least one year.

He said that local police departments have been eager to use the new technology.

“Nearly three-quarters of our police departments are already enrolled and actively using CRIMEWATCH as we stand here today,” Weintraub said. Most of the rest are expected to be using the platform in the near future.

CRIMEWATCH Technologies, Inc., is a strategic partner of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. The information collected and shared via CRIMEWATCH is owned and managed by Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies. 

CRIMEWATCH Technologies Founder & CEO Matt Bloom

CRIMEWATCH Technologies Founder & CEO Matt Bloom

Matt Bloom, founder and CEO of CRIMEWATCH Technologies, presented a demonstration of the platform at the news conference.

“People today spend more time on their smartphones, on their Facebook, than they often spend in the real world,” Bloom said. “For police who are charged with the task of community policing, engaging people in this space and getting in front of them requires a change of operation.

“The CRIMEWATCH platform is a national information-sharing, intelligence-gathering network. It utilizes the public to take part in public safety.” 

The Bucks County CRIMEWATCH is now available to the public at www.buckscrimewatch.org

Contact: Matthew D. Weintraub, 215.348.6344, mdweintraub@buckscounty.org

Source: 

Bucks County District Attorney's Office

    NEWS ALERT: News Conference 2 p.m. May 11 to announce Bucks County launch of CRIMEWATCH

    District Attorney Matt Weintraub will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday, May 11, to announce the county-wide launch of the CRIMEWATCH Network in Bucks County. The news conference will be in the county commissioners’ meeting room on the first floor of the Bucks County Administration Building (old county courthouse), 55 E. Court Street, Doylestown.

    Attending the news conference will be representatives of municipal police departments throughout the county and county officials who have approved initial CRIMEWATCH funding for all Bucks law-enforcement departments. Also attending will be Matt Bloom, founder and CEO of CRIMEWATCH, an online program that has proven invaluable in other parts of the state to police, the communities they protect and serve, and media outlets as a means of disseminating and receiving criminal justice public information.   

    Through CRIMEWATCH, which can be accessed on personal computers or on smartphones as a free downloadable app, police agencies are able to communicate transparently and interactively with residents, stakeholders, the media and one another about crimes and arrests in their jurisdictions, fugitives or persons of interest wanted by law enforcement, public service announcements, court verdicts and sentencings, general information about their agencies, and other matters. CRIMEWATCH can also be used in searches for missing children or seniors under Amber or Silver Alerts, and to list community law enforcement events such as “Shop with a Cop,” Hero Scholarship fundraisers and drug take-back events.

    Members of the public, in turn, have the ability to submit tips anonymously to police in the event that they have information about an unsolved crime or they recognize a wanted suspect or a missing person whose photo appears on CRIMEWATCH.

    In Bensalem Township, the first Bucks County police department to use CRIMEWATCH, at least 125 such tips have been received since November, resulting in arrests in several substantial criminal cases. Among those arrested were  a man wanted for a home-invasion sexual assault, an alleged hit-and-run driver suspected of critically injuring a bicyclist, and a suspected credit card thief who was charged with theft and fraud. In each of these cases, a citizen recognized a surveillance photo or video posted on CRIMEWATCH and provided a tip that helped lead to the arrest.

    It is the intention of the District Attorney’s Office to use CRIMEWATCH as our exclusive means of providing news releases, arrest announcements and court case outcomes to the media. Some of you may already be familiar with our site, as all of our Twitter alerts are now generated via CRIMEWATCH posts, such as this release posted yesterday:  https://bucks.crimewatchpa.com/da/29567/post/man-gets-5-15-years-supplying-drugs-killed-his-friend  We intend to use CRIMEWATCH in the near future to generate our Facebook posts as well.

    Since you and/or your organization has asked to be on our media e-mail alert list, you will be automatically enrolled to receive emails immediately on news content being pushed out by CRIMEWATCH. You are welcome to copy content from these emails, including photos, as part of your reporting. Our only request is that you cite the source of the release in your story and that you encourage the public, where appropriate, to use the Submit-a-Tip feature within CRIMEWATCH for sharing information with authorities. (i.e.: Source: www.bucksda.org )

    We hope to see you there tomorrow. While we think the Bucks County launch of CRIMEWATCH is newsworthy in and of itself, we believe it would be to your advantage to familiarize yourselves with this new technology because you and your colleagues will be seeing much more of it in the near future. Matt Bloom will provide a demonstration of how CRIMEWATCH works, and he and the other participants will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    If you need help getting connected to CRIMEWATCH and need support with your media account, please contact CRIMEWATCH via email  support@crimewatchus.com . CRIMEWATCH staff will either provide you with help electronically or schedule a call to assist you.

    Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association and CRIMEWATCH Technologies Form Partnership Alliance.

    New alliance focused on improving public safety and community relations throughout Pennsylvania.

     
    Harrisburg, PA
    – The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association (PCPA) and CRIMEWATCH Technologies announced a partnership agreement between the two organizations. The partnership was formed with the purpose of improving public safety and cultivating community relations between police departments and citizens throughout Pennsylvania using CRIMEWATCH, making it even more significant across the state.

    Based on the results reported by current CRIMEWATCH member police departments, both organizations strongly believe the partnership will flourish.  The CRIMEWATCH platform is currently deployed in over 110 police departments across the Commonwealth, with more than 30 departments in the evaluation phase.

    “We couldn’t be more pleased about formalizing this partnership with CRIMEWATCH,” stated Tom Gross, Executive Director at PCPA. “The feedback we’re receiving from our police chiefs and commanders across the state has been overwhelmingly positive,” Director Gross said.

    The CRIMEWATCH Network is an integrated public engagement platform developed specifically for law enforcement agencies and allows for geographically targeted information sharing and intelligence gathering. CRIMEWATCH organizes and collectively distributes crime data to the public and media using its controlled content delivery technology through interconnected police department websites (portals), social media, mobile application and TV network. Supplied with this new access to crime data and public safety information occurring near them, citizens are now simply, safely and anonymously reporting tips and information back to law enforcement who are swiftly responding. 

    M.W. Bloom, Founder and CEO of CRIMEWATCH Technologies, isn’t surprised with how well the technology is being received by law enforcement commanders and believes partnering with the PCPA will make CRIMEWATCH even more significant across the state. “Not only are we seeing substantial impact on reported crime [rates] and crime clearances where CRIMEWATCH is deployed, we’re hearing from police chiefs across Pennsylvania about the dramatic improvement in community relations they’re experiencing,” Bloom said. “Our primary objective for CRIMEWATCH, from the beginning, was to make the communities we all live in more safe. And that’s exactly what we’re doing, one community at a time.” 

    It’s likely Bloom’s customers agree with his optimism. In a survey of current CRIMEWATCH network member police chiefs held in early January, over 85% of the chiefs indicated they would recommend the CRIMEWATCH platform to a professional colleague, and 100% of the chiefs stated they would promote CRIMEWATCH on their website and social media accounts.  

    Additional information regarding the newly formed partnership, including 2017 CRIMEWATCH Crime and Community Impact Reports, will be announced at The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association’s 104th Annual Education & Training Conference held in Harrisburg, PA on July 23-26, 2017. Visit www.pachiefs.org or www.crimewatchtech.com for additional information.

    About the Pennsylvania Chief of Police Association: 
    The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Associations’ (PCPA) mission is to promote excellence in leadership and expertise in law enforcement, to advocate for Law Enforcement leaders, and to provide innovative programs and training for our members. The PCPA employs a full-time staff of dedicated professionals. Staff responsibilities focus on developing and sustaining world-class services and capabilities for Pennsylvania’s law enforcement agencies.

    About CRIMEWATCH:
    CRIMEWATCH Technologies, Inc., is a privately held company that develops cutting-edge technology solutions for law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. The company’s core product is the CRIMEWATCH Network, an integrated public engagement platform developed specifically for law enforcement agencies and allows for geographically targeted information sharing and intelligence gathering. CRIMEWATCH distributes near real time data to/from law enforcement and citizens, fostering unprecedented levels of community engagement.

    Media Contact:
    Jim Perkins, VP Operations
    CRIMEWATCH Technologies, Inc.
    jperkins@crimewatchus.com

    CRIMEWATCH is a registered trademark of CRIMEWATCH Technologies, Inc. All rights reserved.

    All Bucks police departments will soon use Crimewatch technology tool

    Imagine a crime happens in your neighborhood — a home break-in across the street, perhaps. A criminal is on the loose, and you don’t know until you read about it the next day on social media or in the news, or you could just be entirely unaware it happened.  

    Matt Schickling, Times photo.

    Matt Schickling, Times photo.

    Before 2012, that was a problem for Matt Bloom.

    “Where I live, you didn’t know what’s going on around you,” he said. “The police are too small to be able to share information. There’s just too much information for police to share effectively with the public.”

    Bloom, a resident of Adams County in Central Pennsylvania, wanted to combat the problem, so he developed Crimewatch, a technology company that immediately, effectively disseminates police information to the public.

    Users can sign up to receive mobile alerts to their smartphones, and not just texts. The alerts may include an image of the offender and details about the arrest including time and location. There’s also a centralized website and mobile application where that information is available, and it automatically pushes to Facebook and other social media outlets.

    “It’s the Google for law enforcement,” said Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran.

    Bensalem Police Department started using Crimewatch in December, and within about a week, it already started paying dividends. In one high-profile sexual assault case, police were able to get information leading to an arrest after the Crimewatch spread the notice to about 18,000 people.

    “As far as social media and crime fighting, it’s the best out there,” Harran said. “We’ll try anything new, anything different to get criminals off the street. In 31 years of law enforcement, I can probably count on one hand tools that are successful in doing that.”

    Bucks County’s 26 other police departments will soon be joining the fold.

    District Attorney Matt Weintraub secured an emergency management grant through the state that will ensure funding for Crimewatch in all departments across the county. When that goes live by the end of March, 120 departments in the state will be using the program, Bloom said.

    Bucks County and Crimewatch tentatively worked out a three-year agreement, but law enforcement officials can evaluate and decide if it’s something they want to keep after each year. For the first year, at least, it will cost the taxpayers nothing.

    “With law enforcement, they’re fundamentally skeptical. They have to be. That’s the nature of their business,” Bloom said. “Matt Weintraub didn’t make this decision lightly.”

    But it wasn’t what Bloom had to say about the app that got him on board. Weintraub originally became interested in Crimewatch as an assistant district attorney. In a seminar with other colleagues, he learned from Dauphin County DA Ed Marsico and Lancaster DA Craig Stedman how Crimewatch was benefitting their law enforcement.

    Back home, Bensalem beta tested the technology for the rest of the county.

    “In this instance, as in many instances, Bensalem is the leader,” Weintraub said. “They were able to validate all the things I thought were great about the program.”

    The app uses location services to give information about crime or wanted criminals nearby. A criminal wanted by police across the country could pop up if his or her last known address was in Bristol Borough, for example.

    It also works for residents who want to report crime. Anybody with information on an investigation can contact police directly through the app, and it keeps your identity secure. That way, tipsters don’t have to fear backlash for identifying a criminal or assisting in an arrest.

    “Now, more than ever, it’s more important for police to be open and share with the public in a more transparent way,” Bloom said. “We can help them foster a better relationship.” ••

    For information or to sign up for CRIMEWATCH, visit crimewatchpa.com.

    Harrisburg police credit website, community with making difference in solving crimes

    HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Harrisburg police say their Crimewatch website has become a very helpful tool in solving crime.

    Cpt. Gabriel Olivera says it has been around for a while, but the department began pushing the site last summer. He says they have received hundreds of strong leads and many have helped close cases.

    People can remain anonymous or they can leave their contact information.

    “People can submit tips, pictures or videos,” Olivera said. “All that we receive can be very helpful.”

    Crimewatch allows police to send information through social media.

    “We want responsible residents and responsible citizens to tell us what is going on,” Olivera said. “We can do something about crime, and this is a way that people can be a part of the solution.”

    Mark Hall
    Published: January 26, 2017, 2:55 am 

    GovTech 100: Our Second Take on an Emerging Marketplace

    Increased venture capital attention, success stories and a viable exit lend credence to the forward momentum of the gov tech marketplace.

    #govtech is trending. Strongly.

    It is an overnight success 30 years in the making. As our masthead suggests, we have been covering the intersection of government and technology for more than three decades. So why the GovTech 100, and why now?

    As we see it, technology in government has reached an inflection point. With states and localities themselves spending nearly $100 billion annually on IT, the public sector has always been a massive consumer of technology and a major market for the companies serving them. But over the last several years there has been a fundamental shift in what was a surprisingly staid market. In fact, 2013 and the ignominy of HealthCare.gov will likely go down as the tipping point between the traditional government technology industrial complex and something entirely new.

    Much of this shift is driven by developments in technology — from ubiquitous connectivity, mobility and the cloud to powerful data analytics. But importantly, these technologies have combined not only to create game-changing platforms like Google, Facebook and Uber, but have also fostered a generational renaissance in public activism under the label of civic tech that’s harnessed open data to hack the way government works.

    The 2017 GovTech 100 stands on the shoulders of all of this. If civic tech is a movement, gov tech is a market; a growing portfolio of truly scalable, digital solutions addressing the tough, complicated problems that governments face, from health care and public finance to urban planning and public safety. It combines public-sector mission and private-sector entrepreneurship and innovation, bringing with it engineering prowess and financial resources otherwise unavailable to government. Gov tech companies differ from incumbent industry players in that their products and services are designed to solve problems specific to government, rather than treating government as a secondary market for products developed with the private sector in mind.

    We launched the GovTech 100 to mark a uniquely disruptive moment in the evolution of technology and the relationship between public and private sectors. In his 2016 book The Third Wave, Steve Case, AOL co-founder and CEO turned investor sees government as the co-creator of a future as both regulator and customer. Case contends that what matters is not hardware and software but relationships as central to confronting “all kinds of … especially complicated … new and novel challenges” rooted in the increasing ubiquity of the Internet in every part of our lives.

    This evolving relationship between government, industry and technology holds the promise to change the way whole sectors — health care, education, human services, finance and agriculture — work, opening a first-of-its-kind opportunity for governments both small and large to harness powerful new tools that can dramatically improve public-sector outcomes, build more livable places, and let citizens engage more meaningfully in the governance of their communities.

    Last year marked the inaugural GovTech 100 list, a foundational group of companies we felt embodied the essence of the space and a good starting place to understand a market lacking in the attention it deserves.

    The list is meant to be representative, not comprehensive. These are not all the companies in the government technology market space, nor do they necessarily represent the biggest players. You won’t find companies like Microsoft here because government is only one of many market segments it serves and represents less than half of its annual revenues.

    These players run the gamut of government technology, from the energy sector to data analytics to back-end administrative solutions to citizen engagement tools.

    WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE MARKET?
    2016 was a year of steady growth in the gov tech market. This included the merger of Granicus and GovDelivery and speculation of a possible future IPO for Accela. This year’s cohort attracted more than $185 million in fresh investment with a growing number of new venture and private equity firms active in the space, evidenced by Warburg Pincus’ investment in NeoGov. Other recent entrants to the market include Vista Equity Partners, Ekistic Ventures and the Urban Innovation Fund, to name a few.

    Stonly Baptiste, co-founder of the venture capital firm Urban.us, is upbeat in his assessment. “Certainly 2016 has been a great year for government technology, from the … opportunity side, which is cities that are willing and wanting to adopt innovation — a few signals there, including the number of cities that have pursued or deployed open data strategies as one indicator, the number of cities that have shaped out innovation officer roles, and more broadly and maybe even more tellingly the number of customers and the size of deals that government technology companies have been able to pick up in the course of this last year.”

    Baptiste said he saw plenty of reason this year to think that cities are increasingly eager to explore new technology as a means to solve problems. And there are new technologies to explore. More than 40 businesses are new to the list in 2017, representing a mix of the mature — like Cityworks, founded in 1986 — and the new — like ProudCity, which launched in 2016.

    On the volatility side, one of the inaugural 100, SnapSense, failed and another, MySidewalk, lost its founder in early December. The publicly traded companies that have been serving the gov tech market for years produced mixed results in 2016. As we went to press, NIC (Nasdaq: EGOV), best known for self-funded state portals, ended the year up 29 percent while Taser (Nasdaq: TASR) slipped by about 5 percent and Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL) fell 17 percent for the year.

    The 2017 list comes at a time of political transition after eight years of an activist Obama administration, the legacy of which includes financial and other supports for government modernization, including the General Services Administration’s 18F and the United States Digital Service, a startup at the White House. Both groups extended their reach to states and localities, which may have to look elsewhere for assistance on such matters under the new administration.

    Things are looking less certain for 2017 on other fronts too. Some market-watchers have been speaking for years about the influx of cash into Silicon Valley tech ventures and wondering whether it might be too much.

    “People are cautious,” said Julie Lein, managing partner of the Urban Innovation Fund. “There are a lot of people talking about the fact that there are so many growth-stage startups that haven’t had liquidity.”

    Still, Lein remains bullish on the still-nascent gov tech space as the technology becomes ever more sophisticated, the challenges facing the public sector more complex, and the intention of government to address vexing problems for themselves — but not by themselves.

    “I do think that for a long time when people saw challenges in their cities and communities, they expected cities or nonprofits to have solutions to those challenges,” Lein said. “I think more and more, and especially over the last decade, people are starting to create solutions for themselves.”

    BY PAUL W. TAYLOR / JANUARY 4, 2017

    North Coventry Township Police Department getting new software

    NORTH COVENTRY TOWNSHIP, PA
    The North Coventry Township Police Department will soon be getting new software that will allow its officers to better communication with the public and with other law enforcement agencies throughout the state.

    The township supervisors approved the purchase of the new software, which is a product of Crimewatch Technologies Inc., a Carlisle-based company that has been selling the software to law enforcement agencies since 2012.
    The software has two components, the first of which is a new website that allows information to be shared more easily and more often.

    "What we do is we push the police department into a space where they're sharing more information and become like a news outlet for their jurisdiction," said Crimewatch Technologies CEO Matt Bloom. "With people using social media nowadays, that becomes a hub for information."

    North Coventry Police Chief Robert Schurr said that the new software will streamline the process of the department issuing press releases and allow officers to input their information directly into the system rather than posting on Facebook, as they do now.

    "It's going to cut some steps out," Schurr said.

    The software will allow updates to be posted to a variety of social media platforms automatically. Also included in the software is a mobile app that can notify residents of an emergency situation in their neighborhood.

    The second component the site offers is a private system that departments can use to share information and identify patterns in crime.

    "The database system breaks down the traditional jurisdictional and geographic restrictions in law enforcement," Bloom said. "It's very important as a way to help them facilitate information sharing, not only between departments locally, but also in Lancaster, Montgomery and Berks counties."

    The software cost is based on the number of township citizens, which will result in North Coventry paying about $160 per month for the service for the next year, at which point the board will re-evaluate the effectiveness of the software.
    Bloom said the company was also waiving a $3,600 setup fee as part of its efforts to get its software into Chester County.

    He said five law enforcement agencies in Chester County have signed up for the service, and that the company is in talks with the Chester County district attorney's office in hopes of getting the software used countywide, as is done in Lancaster County.

    Bloom also said the company had discussions with Montgomery County about bringing the software there as well.

    Fifty-nine Pennsylvania police departments currently use the software, Bloom said.
    The software, Schurr said, is expected to be implemented in the next few weeks.
    Contact Matt Carey: 610-371-5038 or mcarey@readingeagle.com.

    Tredyffrin Police utilize Crimewatch smartphone app

    By Adam Farence

    TREDYFFRIN >> For over a year now, Tredyffrin’s police department has been using a special smartphone app to obtain anonymous tips from the public to find and arrest criminals with outstanding warrants.

    The app, called Crimewatch, allows police officers to disseminate information about a crime, a description of the suspect, what he or she is charged with, the type of warrant issued, and a picture of the suspect if one is available.

    Crimewatch CEO Matt Bloom heavily stressed the anonymity, saying it helps people reach out to the police without fear of retaliation from others who enforce the mentality “snitches get stitches.”

    “There’s a need for people to safely and anonymously submit tips back to law enforcement,” he said.

    Tredyffrin Police Superintendent Anthony Giaimo said “we saw it as something with huge utility.”

    This app, according to Giaimo, helped police arrest Vincent Devalia, a suspect wanted by the West Chester Police Department for an alleged connection with a stabbing in West Chester in October.

    Tredyffrin police put information about Devalia on the Crimewatch mobile app, and police started receiving tips which led to Devalia’s arrest.

    Crimewatch also allows law enforcement to push information out on other websites and social media, such as Facebook. This further increases Crimewatch’s potential audience, and the potential of receiving a tip leading to an arrest.

    Valley Township Police and Coatesville Police have also expressed interest in using Crimewatch.

    Anyone using the app is not restricted to a certain area, they can look at crimes posted by any police department covered in the app.

    This, according to Bloom, has helped police apprehend suspects who fled far away from the scene of the crime.

    Law enforcement agencies in Lancaster County use Crimewatch as well.

    “People felt so much more connected and aware,” Giaimo said. “This has filled a space previously empty.”

    To contact Daily Local News staff writer Adam Farence, email afarence@dailylocal.com, or call 610-235-2647.

    By Adam Farence