Text messaging is used to alert people of emergencies, so why not use it to help fight crime?
That’s what Crime Stoppers plans to do, with the help of companies like messaging aggregator mBlox and software provider Anderson Software. The two companies have joined together to provide an anonymous crime-fighting tip service.
The anonymity is key, said Kevin Anderson, CEO of Anderson Software. Anderson’s service encrypts text messages and routes them though several secure servers. Tipster information is given an alias and unique ID before being sent onward.
Sure, there are times when law enforcement would like to find out the identity of a tipster, but that would compromise the whole principle of Crime Stoppers. Anderson’s software system has all of the legal and technical protections in place to ensure that the tipster’s identity isn’t revealed, Anderson said.
The texting solution was created after crime fighters expressed an interest in adding it to their roster of tools. Anderson Software has worked for many years with Crime Stoppers and also created its wired Web tools. Schools, working within their parameters for cell phone usage, are interested in deploying it to improve safety as well, Anderson said. The text message system also enables anonymous 2-way communications in case investigators want to follow up with the tipster.
mBlox has direct relationships with U.S. carriers and has about 93% reach into the U.S. cell phone subscriber population, according to Steve Livingston, CMO at mBlox. The remaining 7% who are not within its reach are mainly tied to smaller rural carriers with whom mBlox doesn’t yet have direct relationships. The advantages that mBlox brings to the table include low latency and reliability, he said.
Called TipSoft, Anderson’s service is launching in 32 cities in the United States and soon will be available in the United Kingdom. Sixteen cities in Canada already launched the program. Local entities will be marketing information about their programs.