SMS Program Allows Anonymous Tips To Crime Stoppers
Agile Communications Group and the IT firm Anderson Software recently unveiled a new software program that will provide a highly effective tool for crime fighters. The program, TipSoft SMS, provides a comprehensive means for more 1,200 Crime Stoppers programs worldwide to receive tips anonymously and securely reply to tipsters via their cell phones.
Crime Stoppers, the well-known community action group that helps law enforcement agencies internationally, is the first to employ this emerging technology for public safety purposes. Identities of informants are fully protected, and they are assigned aliases under which to claim any applicable rewards. Recent deployments of similar technology in Boston and South Africa have proven the concept can be effective.
Text messaging or SMS provides several advantages over traditional voice calls, especially when calling may not be feasible or safe. In the U.S. alone, 300,000 text messages are sent every minute of every day. As the use of SMS continues to grow, the value and variety of its applications also expand.
Kevin Anderson, owner and CEO of Anderson Software and a longtime supporter and IT partner of Crime Stoppers from local to international levels, is committed to utilizing all available methods for obtaining information from the public.
"Due to the enormous popularity of texting messages via cell phone, and being the industry leader in gathering tips, we felt it was time to develop and provide a truly secure and anonymous means of easily communicating with tipsters via text messages," Anderson said.
The senior developer with Anderson Software, Dr. Dan Bruton, notes: "SMS tips allow citizens to report on a crime in progress without having to say a word. This anywhere-anytime, silent, anonymous method of reporting is probably the simplest yet powerful approach to fighting crime we have ever offered."
Anna Gervait, founder and president of Agile Communications, predicts more citizens will take advantage of this new option to report suspected criminal activity.
"Businesses across all sectors are discovering the valuable applications of text messaging to increase sales, educate customers, notify employees on multiple continents of critical news," she said. "TipSoft SMS offers a way for law enforcement agencies to employ the same technology to save lives."
Technologically, SMS utilizes a much smaller bandwidth, can be transmitted faster than voice calls, and can be sent even when voice traffic is jammed or signal strength is too weak for voice calls. They also require much less battery power, and thus are a better choice for communicating when the battery is low or the phone is being used in a remote location. All of these advantages will serve Crime Stoppers tipsters in their quest to assist law enforcement without endangering themselves.
Related applications for broader use by law enforcement agencies are currently in development and will be released this fall.
"Agile Communications Group is dedicated to being the leader in creative and reliable applications for these emerging technologies," Gervait said.
Anderson said the collaboration of SMS tips with Agile's platform fits in perfectly with his firm's tip management software designed for school systems and for youth crime prevention through its Student Crime Prevention Resource Center.
"We know this avenue will be utilized by all ages, but it is a real natural for the younger population who are so familiar with this form of daily communication," Anderson said.
TipSoft SMS is being welcomed enthusiastically in the Crime Stoppers community globally.
Elaine Cloyd, president of Crime Stoppers USA, heralds the development of state of the art technology as extremely important to Crime Stoppers because taking truly anonymous tips on a 24/7 basis is the life blood of the program.
“We have worked with Anderson Software for many years, and many Crime Stoppers programs are using the TipSoft system,” Cloyd said. “We were already excited about their new WebTip application, which has doubled the tips coming into many programs, and now look forward with anticipation to this TipSoft SMS product, especially for student programs."
Ralph Page, chair of the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association, reports: "We in Canada are delighted to now have the capability to receive tips via SMS text message. We commend Anderson and Agile for responding in such short order to our requirement for anonymous tipping. We do know that the younger generation in particular is very keen to use text messaging. It is our hope that we can further increase the number of tips coming into Crime Stoppers programs using this new, safe and secure technology. Now tipsters can submit tips by telephone, via WebTip, and by text messaging."
Peter Price, chair of Crime Stoppers Australia, adds: "Anonymous and secure SMS crime reporting will become more important to Crime Stoppers and police in the future, as the penetration of mobile communications grows at a pace outstripping landline communications. Further to this, if you see or hear something you no longer have to wait to report it. This increases the immediacy of the system and will expectedly reduce the time period for a course of events to unfold. It may even help stop an offender from re-offending."