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June 8, 2017 – A donation from Harry and Judy Wason via the Williamsburg Community Foundation allowed the development and launch of public safety and other apps for Hampton and several other localities and institutions in the region. Hampton Police and 311, as well as Hampton University, unveiled the apps to connect with smartphone users.
Roger Koch of Shield Connect, which developed the smartphone applications, highlighted the technology at a press conference Monday. The ConnectProtect app, customized for each locality, allows residents to submit tips to police and police to send safety notifications.
Hampton’s residents can send non-emergency tips to the Hampton Police division directly from the app. The tips can include a photo that is geo-tagged, which will help officers follow up.
Hampton Police Chief Terry Sult noted that police work is “about two-way communication.” Using social media and other methods, he said, “We’re pushing out information to the community now, but we haven’t had the feedback coming back into us.” Having the app will make it easy for people to share information with police, he said.
Similar apps will be used by the Newport News Sheriff and the York-Poquoson Sheriff. The version being rolled out at Hampton University, called Pirate Connect, also offers a “panic button” that students can hold down if they feel unsafe; an abrupt release of the button triggers a notification with the location to security.
University Police Chief David Glover noted that he has 23 call boxes on campus to alert security, and this now gives the campus “an infinite number,” creating “a much safer campus.” Christopher Newport University is expected to roll out its app before fall semester.
Hampton is also adding an app for reporting complaints, issues, work requests and concerns. Residents have long been able to call 311 or send an email, but the new app will allow them to snap a photo of, for example, high grass and weeds or an inoperable car or a large pothole. The GPS-coding will give the city a precise location for follow-up, noted City Manager Mary Bunting.
Donor Judy Wason urged the localities to “have fun with” the technology and “use it to help the community,” adding that if even one person is helped, the donation was worth it.
Here are the apps that connect Hampton residents with their government.
Hampton VA links residents (and visitors) to key information, such as:
311 Hampton VA Mobile connects residents to the city’s 311 Customer Contact Center:
ConnectProtect Hampton Police connects residents to the Hampton Police Division.
The Hampton Sheriff’s Office also has an app that lists job openings and volunteer opportunities. It can also connect to inmate programs and provide families with information. Search for Hampton Sheriff in the Apple App and Google Play stores.