Today the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International launched the Application Community - “AppComm” - a new website dedicated to public safety and emergency response apps for use by the general public, app developers, and first responders.
AppComm is the single, trusted online forum where public safety professionals, the general public, and app developers can rate and comment on apps, submit ideas for new apps to serve public safety needs, and suggest additional apps for inclusion on the site. The site provides clickable links to download the apps from external developer websites and app stores.
As the world’s largest organization of public safety communications professionals, APCO is lending its considerable collective expertise and reputation to create AppComm because it recognizes the importance of providing a platform that the public safety community can trust and rely upon to aggregate and develop the most effective apps for public safety and emergency response.
In addition to advances in mobile technology experienced in the consumer marketplace, the nationwide public safety broadband network being implemented by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is a significant catalyst for app development targeted to first responders. APCO intends to work closely with FirstNet as AppComm and the public safety network continue to progress.
Today’s launch includes an initial listing of 60 apps selected by APCO that are representative of the value and diversity of existing public safety apps. APCO is not currently endorsing or vetting any apps listed on AppComm, but does encourage visitors to evaluate the apps by using the rating and commenting features. AppComm users, particularly first responders and APCO members, will provide critical insights to identify the best apps and facilitate practitioner-driven innovation.
At the same time, as an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards development organization, APCO is in a unique position to develop the standards necessary to govern these new tools. As a first step, on March 4, 2013, APCO filed a Project Initiation Notification to develop a standard for apps that would be integrated with 9-1-1 call centers, public safety communication centers and public safety agencies. APCO will continue to lead the way in fostering the development of appropriate standards and criteria for public safety apps.
“With its unique expertise in public safety communications, APCO is determined to play a major leadership role in supporting the development of a diverse, practitioner-driven public safety app ecosystem fostered through the collaborative efforts of public safety professionals and app developers,” said APCO President Terry Hall. “APCO designed AppComm to facilitate this collaboration by serving as the single, trusted site to review, comment, and rate public safety apps, as well as the best forum to submit ideas for new apps. These features in turn will support our standards development efforts and allow us to foster innovation driven by public safety’s needs.”
Jeff Cohen, APCO’s Chief Counsel for Law and Policy, added “the main value of AppComm will come from the active participation of APCO members and other public safety professionals who can best assess the value and effectiveness of apps with an understanding of the mission to preserve the safety of life and property. Further, by fostering the use of open government data sources, such as those promoted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as by many forward-looking, innovative states, cities, and localities, AppComm will help drive further innovation and improvements in public safety apps.”
Jay English, APCO’s Director of Communications Center & 9-1-1 Services, noted “this is also an open invitation to the technology community – ranging from the world's largest technology companies to the dorm room, classroom, or garage – to use AppComm as a tool, and work with APCO and other major stakeholders including FirstNet, to focus on creating a new wave of app innovation for public safety and emergency response.”
Here’s what others have to say:
From U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Committee on Energy and Commerce: "I welcome the launch of AppComm, the nation's first practitioner-driven public safety app development community where first responders and the public can work in collaboration. AppComm will help leverage the expertise of Silicon Valley as we continue to develop mobile apps that empower our first responders with 21st century technology to save lives."
From Congresswoman Doris Matsui, a member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology: “I am a strong supporter of FirstNet and I am pleased to see that innovation is beginning to evolve and transpire thanks to the spectrum law. America’s innovators need certainty and the law provides a path to begin developing next generation technologies and applications to improve public safety throughout the country. I’m glad to see that APCO is creating a site for spurring discussion and development of mobile public safety apps that will benefit not only first responders, but all Americans, through innovative features and real time data and information.”
From Richard Price, President of the PulsePoint Foundation, and retired Fire Chief for the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District: “As a retired Fire Chief and developer of PulsePoint I am witnessing firsthand the transformational power of public safety apps. I applaud APCO for the timely launch of AppComm and encourage my colleagues to explore this valuable new industry resource and to actively contribute content.”
From Chris Russo, Founder and Executive Vice President, Elerts Corporation, and Deputy Fire Chief of Hull, Massachusetts: “Recent events impacting public safety have demonstrated the incredible power of mobile applications, advanced technologies and social media. It is important as public safety professionals that we bring strong solutions to the market that will enhance the safety of our first responders and allow for community-sourced information to be vetted and shared when appropriate. By serving as a central location for fostering development of public safety apps, AppComm will certainly lead to better ways to protect the public at large.”