Smartphone users know that there is an application, or an “app,” for just about everything, from getting the weather forecast to re-financing a mortgage. If you go to your smartphone app store today and perform a search for “Fort George G. Meade,” you’ll discover there’s now an app for the installation.
The new Fort Meade app began life as a mass notification tool, said Fort Meade Chief of Police Captain Thomas Russell.
“We tried to come up with a way to get messages out and obtain information from people that wasn’t going to be obtrusive, wasn’t going to be labor-intensive. We found that because just about everyone carries a smartphone, the app was really the best way,” he said.
Although Fort Meade already has ways to notify people in an emergency, Mary Doyle, chief of Media Relations at the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office, said most of these are aimed at installation employees.
“The post has a number of tools used to notify people in emergency situations,” Doyle said. “Some of them are directed solely at employees, people sitting at their desks receiving direct messages. But what about spouses, children, retirees? Everybody who uses the installation isn’t necessarily an employee.”
Doyle adds that “the app is a great way for anybody, on or off-post, to get information about what’s going on at Fort Meade.”
One reason a smartphone app was selected was the ability to have two-way communication.
“The plan is that the police at the desk, on patrol, even gate guards can, for example, update the status of a particular gate, let people know what the traffic situation is on any particular road, and they can get updates from wherever they are,” Doyle said.
Two-way communication means users can also report on a range of items to include traffic issues, stray animals and vandalism.
“If you observe a situation that’s suspicious to you, you can report it, even crimes as they occur. We’re talking about the non-emergency type crimes — your petty larcenies or destruction of property, things that may not need an absolute critical response,” said Russell.
But he also stresses that the app is not a replacement for 9-1-1. It shouldn’t be used for situations where an immediate police response is required.”
Features of the Fort George G. Meade app include post bulletins, emergency alerts, news updates, links to Fort Meade social media, a calendar of events, one-touch calling to report problems and more. The app is free to download and it is available now in both the iTunes and Android app stores. An effort is underway to make the app available in the government app store to download on government-issued mobile devices.
Russell hopes that everyone in the community downloads the app. He said, “We need help from the tenant agencies, to get it down to their employees that this isn’t big brother looking at you or watching over you. We’re not tracking anyone, we just want to be able to get out the information to help you, if something’s going on.”