First of its kind: Dunwoody police unveil new alert system

Fleeing suspects have an enemy greater than the arm of the law—time. The get-away time after a robbery determines the likelihood of being caught by the cops—and a judge deciding how much time behind bars is to be served.

In Dunwoody, bad guys may find less time to escape, should its residents embrace a new “web-based information system” unveiled last week.

Instant e-mail and phone text-message alerts from the city’s police department will reach registered users in seconds. Missing persons or suspects would therefore be found sooner and suspicious activity unraveled, according to Dunwoody police.

“It’s the first one like it,” said police spokesman William Furman “and it’s free to anyone who wants to register.”

The system, Interactive Defense, is also free to the police department. The creator, also called Interactive Defense, will only charge for advertizing on the menu bar and side panels – so the company’s economic future depends on its popularity. Dunwoody could therefore provide the litmus test of its potential.

“We’re guaranteed no pop-ups, banners and spam, and we must approve the advertisers,” said Furman, addressing common internet nuisances.

Interactive Defense has other perks. Each member can use the system as a server to store a file with bar code information, for insurance or police reports purposes in case of a burglary or weather damage.

According to Furman, Dunwoody is the country’s first community to adopt the system. “We’ve always tried to be transparent and communicative,” he said. “This is another tool to send and receive e-mails, wanted posters, suspicious activity.”

Furman offered a hypothetical “peace of mind” scenario to further illustrate how it can work: “Imagine you’re sitting on the beach and you get a text message telling you they checked your house and everything is OK…because you told them you were going on vacation. That’s a great feature.”

Police officers also will have scanning capabilities, so images can be downloaded and dispatched through the server.

“We can then break it down into subdivisions –say, Kingsley,” said Furman. “An officer then goes onto the laptop and–if it’s a photo–uploads it, chooses ‘Kingsley,’ and everyone in that neighborhood [who is a registered user] will get an e-mail and text message with that photo. We don’t have to go through the e-mail grapevine.”

Information contributed by: Internet News