December 20, 2012 By Brian Heaton
A real-time video chat program has made getting in touch with police a lot more convenient in Redwood City, Calif.
Instead of going through the hassle of finding the phone number or email of a particular law enforcement division, residents can now log onto the Redwood City Police Department website and start a video or text chat right from the home page. The department has been providing the service since June.
Communication takes place using Live Guide, a chat software platform developed by Netop, a provider of remote engagement tools. Chris Cesena, a captain with Redwood City PD who commands the department’s Administrative Services Division, said the idea was to provide a simple Web-based application that could improve the interaction between citizens and officers.
“We wanted somebody to go on the website without having to necessarily download any software, click on a link and boom, your choices are right in front of you,” Cesena said. “Here’s a button if you want to talk on video, here’s a button if you just want to text, those types of things.”
Cesena explained that the city’s IT department presented him with a few different video chat options, including Skype and Cisco’s WebEX. But both video conferencing tools were “a little bit too much” for what the department was looking for, Cesena added.
The real-time chat function is available Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST. Officers on modified duty — those rehabbing an injury, for example — primarily handle the chat duties. When an officer is not available, non-sworn personnel working for the department fill in the coverage gaps.
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