Not-So-Smart Announcement of Unavailable Police Smart Phone “App”

Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Screen grab of police "app"


What better way to welcome the latest class of technology-hip San Francisco police cadets last week than with an announcement of a new, mobile-based information-sharing “app” that would be theirs to break in.

Perhaps a better way would include actually having such an application designed and in hand, and having the necessary smartphones to use it. Although Mayor Ed Lee, Police Chief Greg Suhr and political fundraiser and Silicon Valley investor Ron Conway gave the distinct impression that was the case, they unfortunately do not.

The city does not yet have a contractual agreement with the application’s developer, ArcTouch, the software is still in development without a release date, the database it would access is still in a beta phase, and the city has no plans (or budget) for acquiring the smartphones. Police Chief Suhr estimated it would be at least six months before a working version of the app was available and the department’s chief technology officer, Susan Giffin, suggested that the police officers could use their personal smartphones to run it.

San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology & Innovation (, a nonprofit association founded by Conway whose members include many of the city’s technology companies, contributed $100,000 to fund the software’s development. ArcTouch is one of its members.

The association is a prime mover behind getting an initiative on the ballot to replace San Francisco’s 1.5% payroll tax, which impacts tech companies more heavily than other less labor-intensive industries. The lobbyist hired by the association to handle the tax initiative, Alex Tourk, also is a front man for promoting the ArcTouch app. He refers to it as a “pilot project.”

–Ken Broder   


To Learn More:

Police Department Has No Budget for Smartphones for Touted Mobile App (by Matt Smith, The Bay Citizen)

App Will Allow SFPD Officers to File Reports in Field (by Amy Hollyfield, KGO-TV)

The "Bat Computer" That's Going To Be In Every Cop's Pocket (by Reyhan Harmanci, BuzzFeed)

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