APCO Launches Site to Drive Public Safety App Development

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With the goal of promoting collaboration between emergency response organizations and the general public, the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) has launched a new Web site for public safety applications.

Called Application Community, or AppComm, the online forum is an effort for more than 15,000 public safety professionals to get their information out to the public. Developed by various emergency response organizations, there are more than 60 applications on the Web site, which are grouped by type of public safety service and range from safety manuals to crime maps to emergency alert programs. APCO also encourages users to rate and comment on the apps, as well as submit new ideas for applications.

To run a successful program, APCO plans to work closely with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which implements the nationwide public safety broadband network. Additionally, on March 4, the organization 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.

The proposed standards will address the following:

  • Development of common approach to interfaces
  • Device- and operating system-agnostic applications
  • Integration to both legacy and next generation public safety communications systems
  • Security requirements
  • The critical nature of location information
  • Evolution of voice and data networks in public safety

For Chris Russo, deputy fire chief of Hull, Mass., who created the ELERTS app to help improve communicatins between first responders and the public, AppComm is necessary for the public safety community.

“Recent events impacting public safety have demonstrated the incredible power of mobile applications, advanced technologies and social media,” he says. “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.”

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