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Mayor Bowser Highlights DC’s Innovative Use of Technology in Public Safety

Thursday, March 16, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser joined the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) to highlight DC’s innovative use of technology to improve public safety and combat crime. Since launching the Administration’s Safer, Stronger DC public safety agenda in 2015, multiple DC Government agencies have found new ways to use technology to respond to crisis situations, such as the report of a missing person, and spread awareness around criminal activity.

“Building a safer, stronger DC requires our public safety agencies to be innovative, nimble and responsive,” said Mayor Bowser. “When we make more people in the community aware of open cases, we can work together to keep our neighborhoods safe. Through the use of technology and social media, our public safety agencies have found new ways to solve tough cases.”

Most visibly, in 2016, the MPD Youth and Family Services Division started aggressively using social media to generate immediate public attention for missing persons. The Department’s tweets generate significant public attention which is often a key contributor to finding missing persons.

MPD is also working The Lab @ DC, an initiative housed in the Office of the City Administrator that brings social scientists and data experts together to scientifically review and improve DC Government programs and services. This collaboration is working to make the data and information collected by MPD more user-friendly and transparent.

“Modern policing involves the development of innovative methods for solving crimes and building a stronger, more informed community,” said Acting Chief of Police Peter Newsham. “We are committed to building upon our progress in the community and believe that collaboration with our District partners and investment in technology has played a large role.”

In addition, MPD partners with the Office of Cable Television, Film, Music, and Entertainment (OCTFME) to develop public service announcements that highlight unsolved homicide cases in DC. The videos air on District cable channels and have also been made available to major news outlets for rotation. Videos are available for viewing and distribution on OCTFME’s YouTube page.

Earlier this month, MPD hosted a Safer, Stronger, Smarter Hackathon in collaboration with OCTO and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). The event brought together civic hackers from across the region to provide feedback on MPD crime maps and to make recommendations to DC’s public safety communicators. The results of the Hackathon, which can be found on octo.dc.gov, will help MPD and DDOT better meet the needs of the community as they develop new technologies.

“We can be safer and stronger when we are smarter in our use of technology to deliver services,” said Chief Technology Officer Archana Vemulapalli. “It is critical that we collaborate with residents and businesses as we roll out these technologies to build trust, increase transparency, and ensure the services and communications meet their needs and keep them informed, engaged and, most importantly, safe.”

The Metropolitan Police Department continues to be a national model for its use of technology. In 2016, the Department become the first municipal police department to fully deploy body-worn cameras to all patrol officers. For more information about the District’s continued use of technology in public safety, visit mpd.dc.gov.