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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

APCO: Website List's Public Safety Smartphone Applications And Features

APCO Creates Web Site to Wrangle Safety Apps

Faced with an ever-increasing number of public safety smartphone applications being developed by independent companies, the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO) has now created a Web site to help focus app programming on real-world and practical features. 
The new Web site hopes to assist developers by connecting them with public safety professionals, and learning more about which features are most useful to comm centers and the public. The site launched yesterday with 60 representative apps selected by APCO’s staff, and allows visitors to to rate and comment on them. 
The site does not allow downloads of the apps directly, but does provide a link to the appropriate app store. APCO notes it will not be endorsing or vetting the apps, but will instead let the the site’s visitors, “provide critical insights to identify the best apps and facilitate practitioner-driven innovation.” 
There are currently scores of apps for the iPhone and other handsets, but none fully integrate with 911 centers, and the features of many are impractical or ignore 911 centers. Earlier this year APCO warned of applications being developed by companies and groups with no expertise or experience in the field of public safety communications. 
The current list of app categories includes reference, maps, video, government data and personal safety. 
Last month APCO began a program to create official standards for developing apps that can integrate directly with public safety answering points (PSAP). The process includes creating draft standards, accepting public comments and making revisions, which usually takes many months.
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