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TMCNet:  Jacksonville Sheriff's Office unveils new traffic alert app and calls for service display on website [The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville :: ]

[July 31, 2014]

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office unveils new traffic alert app and calls for service display on website [The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville :: ]

(Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 31--The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office unveiled new ways to talk to the city's residents Thursday, some as close as the smartphone they use to text and talk to each other.


All are designed to fulfill what Sheriff John Rutherford said was a "promise to be transparent and help citizens know about their police agency and how to engage with us as easily as possible." The first is the free AudioTraffic app. It broadcasts audio information on major and secondary road incidents and suggested alternate routes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

"Imagine the convenience when you are ready to leave the house or your office and you want to hear a GPS-sensitive message about road closures in your area," Rutherford said. " ... The information is updated continuously during those hours. The company hopes to expand those hours very soon." The service offers police alerts on major crimes, similar to the EARS (Emergency Alert Response System) alerts that Jacksonville news media receive on incidents. The system also announces Silver or Amber alerts from the Sheriff's Office for missing people. The service is paid through corporate sponsorship and offered free to the Sheriff's Office by the West Palm Beach-based Audible Media Group.

Each announcement has a sponsorship announcement, followed by the warning. About 1,100 updates are done every month, pre-recorded by reporters for automatic playback without the phone owner having to look at their screen. The app can be found at audiotrafficapp.com or on the Apple AppStore and Googleplay on Android phones.

The next way the Sheriff's Office plans to "talk" with residents is the new "Calls for Service" website, callsforservice.jaxsheriff.org. Like a police scanner of old, it offers police calls that have been dispatched listed in red, and completed calls listed in gray. All listings are delayed for 30 minutes to allow the dispatched officer to get the situation under control, Rutherford said.

"One of the things citizens want to know is police activity in their area, and to the extent that we can tell them, I want them to know so they can help us and it keeps them safe," he said.

It doesn't show specific addresses, just the hundred block. Certain incidents like sexual assaults and child abuse will not be shown for privacy reasons, Rutherford said.

A live monthly Sheriff's Office Internet call-in show is coming later this month, Rutherford said. The show will take telephone calls and tweets from people with questions. More information is coming on the program soon.

The Sheriff's Office also is working on its own mobile app that would allow residents to report a car accident or crime, leave a CrimeStoppers tip and receive automated emergency alerts from police. More information on the app is also coming, with a debut also set for later this month.

Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549 ___ (c)2014 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) Visit The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) at www.jacksonville.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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