Two smart phone apps that need to be built now to help police and local government.

Artist Interpretation of GPS satellite, image ...

Artist Interpretation of GPS satellite, image courtesy of NASA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend, I have considered two applications that are needed to help police and local planners. In the age of social media, I am not sure why these do not already exist.  The first is about accident investigations. The second is about planning applications.

I think it is time that UK police accident investigators come into the 21st century and exploit social media to its full potential.  What do I mean?  I mean the ubiquitous signs that say, “Serious accident occurred here on such and such dates”. Invariably, these are written in small font. Invariably, they are placed on busy roads where traffic is rarely at a standstill so it is nearly impossible to read the text when travelling at speed.

What is needed is an application that links GPS location marking to SMS technology. What would happen is that as a person drove pass the accident point, an SMS would be sent to their phone or GPS navigation device. The SMS would provide a short description of the accident and contain a link to report further information. The police could reach people who regularly pass the site and it would allow people to report the incident in their own time.  To put it differently, but directly, how many people are going to stop immediately after seeing the sign, get out of their car, walk back to the sign, read it and then report what they saw?

The application would allow the police to get more witnesses.  At the same time, they could link into the social media shadows that we have in our phones and ohter GPS devices.  If necessary, they could recreate which GPS devices were near an accident when it occurred.  What I was thinking is that the same technology that allows a person to see the congestion on major roads, based on GPS signals, could be used to find potential witnesses at the time of the accident.

The second application would apply the same principle and approach to planning applications.  Too often, I walk past a poster on a lamppost that says that someone is going to be building or modifying something in the vicinity. The poster, if I am able to read it, tells me that I have to go to the local council for more information. Invariably, the notice is written in a stilted legal style. Invariably, I have to read it three times to understand it or consider a law degree at the Open University to understand the legal language.

What could help is to create an application so that anyone passing with a GPS device is alerted to the planning application and is texted a link. The link could contain the planning application or it could link to the Council’s web portal. In either case, it would allow people to become aware of, and comment on, the building applications, in their area. It may allow them to become aware of applications that they may not be aware of otherwise.  Who, after all, is constantly perusing the lampposts or checking the Council is planning pages for new  planning applications?

In many cases, the Council contacts the nearest landowners for their views. The GPS enabled system might allow them to send this alert electronically. Moreover, it may alert people who would not normally be aware of the issue, but who are affected by it.  For example, people who park in an area may be affected by a planning application but never be contacted because they are not nearby landowners.

If I knew how to code these or create these applications, I would. I think there is a market for both of these applications because they are services that we all need and they have two major sponsors the police and councils.

About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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2 Responses to Two smart phone apps that need to be built now to help police and local government.

  1. Tony Franks says:

    Good article! In fact to extend this idea for planning notices, how about a QR code and for folk with non-smartphones a “” style web address easily jotted into the mobile phone.


    • lawrence serewicz says:

      Thanks for response. Yes a QR code would be good. I had seen that suggested in the past. It may just be a process of working its way through authorities to emerge. The link would be good as well. There are ways to reach out and make engagement three dimensional rather than 2 dimensional.


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