A child has been abducted, but you don't know that and just saw her walking down the street with someone. What if you had received a text message from the police minutes after she went missing? You could let police know, within seconds, where you saw her last, describe the person she was with, and in which direction she was going. Calling it “the next step in our use of technology,” Providence police chief Dean Esserman has announced a partnership with Citizen Observer, a Minnesota-based company that sends alerts using e-mail and the ever-present text message, and lets people send anonymous tips to the department via texting, reports the Providence Journal.
The system, for which the department will pay $12,000 for a two-year subscription, will allow greater communication with the community. About 300 cities and towns, including Cincinnati and Fort Worth, Texas, use the same system. One potential benefit is connecting with a different demographic. “We're always interested in working on connections with people who don't feel connected,” Esserman said, “In particular, young people.”