Real-World Implications of Law Enforcement Innovations on ‘APB’

‘APB’ on Fox has promoted itself, in part, as an exciting “what-if” world of policing and community safety super-charged by innovative, high-tech hardware. At RL Leaders, we connect members of law enforcement and the national security community to entertainment and tech industry creatives to foster real-world innovations that support their missions. So, we aren’t just watching ‘APB’ to be entertained, but with a keen eye towards the potential real-world applications that its technology can provide the women and men sworn to protect our communities. As we watched the premiere recently, we honed in one piece of new technology that could have a major positive impact on public safety — the ‘APB’ mobile app.

All of the hardware on display made for good television; but it’s the mobile application deployed on the show — as a “fix” to response time related challenges facing 911 dispatchers — that could revolutionize community policing. In the show, with the tap of a button, law enforcement is alerted to a situation requiring a police presence. Given the demands of screenwriting for television and pacing of an action drama like ‘APB,’ the magnitude of how powerful a force for good such an app could be did not get the screen time it deserved.

Consider the new realities of the modern world facing law enforcement. In an emergency situation involving an intruder or assault, a would-be victim is often unable to speak, even if they are able to dial 911. In the past, a 911 call from a landline with silence on one end of the phone could be easily traced back to a physical address and local law enforcement could be dispatched to a residence. Today, with cell phones ubiquitous, fewer folks than ever even have a landline in their homes, and many cell phone users don’t have area codes that match the community in which they live. That makes a “silent” call from a mobile device more difficult to trace to a specific location in the event of an emergency.

But what if the very technology that’s made law enforcement dispatch difficult — cell phones — also hold the key not only to solving that problem but also to improving accuracy and preparedness in the response?

Imagine a world in which there’s a mobile app directly connected to local law enforcement. A single mom with kids who fled domestic violence and has a restraining order against her ex-husband can download the app, create a profile that voluntarily offers up details pertinent to her security (such as the restraining order), controlled access to her phone’s GPS location, and even a history of any threats she’s received from her ex. That information is stored on the law enforcement end so that if the ex-husband follows through on his threat and shows up (in violation of the restraining order) … with the tap of a button on her mobile phone, she can alert local authorities. Now law enforcement can quickly see the threat history, properly assess the current emergency situation, and then, rapidly deploy a squad car to the correct location while providing the responding officers with a clearer picture of the situation.

There are myriad possibilities of how such an app could be deployed and add value to both law enforcement and individuals concerned about their personal security. As demonstrated in the hypothetical example above, there is real potential value to public safety in the creative ideas portrayed on TV.

As RL Leaders continues our work with security professionals and creative minds from leading industries, we strive to push the envelope toward bringing on-screen innovations to life in the name of safety and security.