New mapping application to hit consumer market, draws concerns from police

There’s an app for that – the popular phrase is all too familiar.

SituMap is a mapping technology that lets first responders see scenes virtually. The new app is hitting the consumer market this year and that has police concerned.

The new mapping application uses cellular technology to provide real-time information on traffic, weather and even crisis and crime scenes.

“People got robbed on that trail in NoMa,” said Augustus Ford. “It would have been good for those mapping technologies to already be in place because it was like, ‘Oh, we can't send an officer to that place because there's no address.’”

SituMap’s creator compares this app to Google Earth, but the D.C. Police Union has concerns -- calling the new technology potentially dangerous, compromising and detrimental for police.

“Sure, bad people are going to try to get the good guys’ information,” said Dr. Richard Smith, an assistant professor at Texas A&M University.

He developed the app with the help of students, including graduate Sam Allred.

“That's ultimately why I decided to take this path and help further its development, so that maybe in the future, we can develop a tool that might very well save somebody's life,” said Allred.

Retired U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer echoed the police union’s sentiments.

“I'm happy when we have technology that's used for law enforcement or first responders' technology because it makes it a lot easier and you can think even how it would have helped over at the Washington Navy Yard a year ago or most recently,” said Gainer. “The double-edge sword is then sometimes your adversaries get looks at things they just should not.”

Dr. Smith said he is partnering with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, an international training agency.

“D.C. trains with them [and] Chicago,” said Smith. “180,000 responders around the world train with them and they're going to be putting SituMap into their curriculum.”

So far, Smith says law enforcement agencies in California, Florida and Texas use SituMap and now your neighbor could have it next.

MORE:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/80429560@N03/sets/72157653832099870

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