Barnet alerts the public by messaging mobile phones

The Met’s Barnet Borough Police is sending mobile phone messages from police vans and has used it to warn the public about a spate of recent muggings and cashpoint robberies in the area.

Feb 14, 2008
By Paul Jacques

The Met’s Barnet Borough Police is sending mobile phone messages from police vans and has used it to warn the public about a spate of recent muggings and cashpoint robberies in the area.

The gogo mobile messaging system was devised by marketing communications company ‘an agency called england’, and Barnet police began distributing community safety information to mobile phones in December 2007. A second gogo system will be permanently based in Golders Green Police Station.

Messages can be quickly and easily prepared and distributed, and the police envisage being able to use the system, if needed, to inform members of the public of terror warnings or witness appeals. gogo is a mobile messaging system designed to communicate with a target audience at a relevant time and location. The information is delivered free via Bluetooth, and once downloaded can remain on the user’s mobile phone until deleted.

Chief Superintendent Stephen Kavanagh said: “gogo gives us a number of important benefits. We can locate a pod quickly in a relevant location and the public can receive and respond to messages at no cost to them. People have their mobile phones with them throughout the day and, once downloaded, the information is with them should they need it at any point.

“The reaction from the public has been incredibly positive, both in the measured uptake of messages and in the response to the messages delivered. We’re confident this will prove an important tool in keeping the local community safe.”

Tony Stanton, chief executive of an agency called england, added: “Virtually everyone carries a mobile phone, and this system enables Barnet Metropolitan Police to communicate with as many people as possible in a cost-effective and unobtrusive way.

“The system is designed so people can interact with it and respond, for instance, to police appeals. The simplicity of the system makes it an ideal tool for disseminating important information quickly in event of an emergency.”

gogo was developed by england’s interactive team, working with a Scandinavian technology partner. Originally devised to deliver a mobile city guide for the city of Leeds, this is the first time it has been used by a police force. Information is delivered from small pods which can be easily located at poster sites, retail locations, entertainment venues, public spaces or wherever required. The range of the pods is between 0.5 and 30m and they can be programmed to operate individually or as a network.

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