More accessibility to citizens via mobile

The Swiss police want to be accessible to its citizens. Six cantons have apps in place. Over 200,000 downloads are proof that the strategy is successful. However, these are only the first steps on the road to a digital police force. Read the article from «swiss made software – the book», which puts a spotlight on Switzerland as a location for IT development.

The police forces of the Bern, Zurich, Basel-Stadt, Schaffhausen, Grisons and Lucerne cantons have more accessibility to their citizens on apps. They can get the latest updates about search operations, local news and more through their smartphones. Using push notifications, the general public can even be more involved in emergency situations.

Although it was initially designed as a marketing tool for the Bern cantonal police force, the app has now developed into a popular and useful information and communication channel. The first app was implemented by Netcetera in Zurich and it successfully went live in 2011. The positive response is now causing more cantons to recognize the potential of the app.

Regionalization is doable

In addition to information about police work and job vacancies, the app includes press releases (news), info on wanted and missing people, water levels and traffic information, road conditions and avalanche reports, emergency numbers as well as tips for crime prevention in everyday life and more.

Local conditions and individual requirements can be taken into account through a functional breakdown of basic and supplementary features. Thanks to this «regionalization», information about road conditions and avalanche warnings are available in Grisons, while the water level and temperature of the Rhine are available in Basel.

The force is making sure that no duplication is being created. ePolice Mobile is a part of the HPI project (Harmonization of Swiss police ICT infrastructure). In this way, the police force is organizing computing projects throughout Switzerland with the goal of harmonization. The ideal scenario will be that all 26 cantons are using one solution from the HPI program. The fact that there is room for regional differences shows the mentioned "regionalization" of the ePolice mobile app among other things.

Aided by the general public

The response from the participating forces is positive and the experiences to date show that Swiss inhabitants actively use the online police services. This has also been confirmed through the initial tests of the push function (notification) in some cantons as the general public were asked for their assistance.

HPI is already able to demonstrate other successes, such as the web platform, Suisse ePolice. Residents can already report bicycle thefts or lost license plates on the platform. Availability and proximity are once again key objectives. If the process continues well, it will ideally result in an ecosystem that links citizens and police through a network of services from the economy, but that idea is still up in the air. However, it is clear that there is growth in popularity for both the portal and the apps. Only time will tell whether this is from the novelty of their launch or is a sustainable success in the long run.

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