CHICAGO — Entrepreneur Victoria Shannon said now that a new crime app her company created is being used by the Dolton Police Department, she hopes Chicago police will soon follow suit.
"I have had discussions already with Chicago and I plan on having more discussions with them about using the IALERTU app," Shannon said at a Tuesday news conference in Dolton. "I expect to see this app being used by more cities over the next year. And with the village of Dolton being first to use it, we encourage every other city to jump on board and help reduce violence in their communities."
Shannon, CEO of Nexx Business Solutions, explained that she and business partner Keisha Willis, created the app earlier this year after realizing how difficult it could be to report crimes without having to give personal information.
While the app is available for smart phones, it can only be downloaded in Dolton. Using real time the app allows users to send anonymous photos, texts, audio and videos to police. The village of Dolton has a population of 23,274, according to census data.
Adam Collins, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, said he was unsure if it planned on using the app.
In July, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, unveiled new social media tools the department was using to allow residents to better send anonymous crime tips.
The app is being used by Dolton police as part of a pilot program at no cost to the village.
"A private sponsor has made it possible for Dolton to use this app for free," Shannon added, who declined to name the sponsor.
But with five people being shot Monday in Englewood alone, Tio Hardiman, a community advocate and former director of Ceasefire Illinois, said the app could help Chicago police generate leads.
"Any tool that can help reduce or prevent crimes in advance should be welcomed by law enforcement officials from across the state," said Hardiman, a gubernatorial candidate. "Chicago Police should definitely make good use of the new app to help deter crime."
Shannon, a 44-year-old Bronzeville resident, downplayed any notion that she created the app because police are unable to reduce crime.
"Crime is happening all over the city, and at many schools from elementary to college," Shannon said. "And while the police and schools do what they can to minimize things, we realized that the more help, the better."
Dolton police chief John Franklin agreed.
"Our officers have already been trained on how to use this app and we have a computer dedicated to this app in our 911 center," Franklin said. "We are very happy about the opportunity to make life better for the residents of Dolton."
Shannon's company has also developed a second crime app geared toward schools.
Advanced Action Control Tragedies would allow teachers to instantly alert security about criminal activity in classrooms.
"Teachers don't have walkie-talkies like the security guards. If a fight breaks out on the third floor, a teacher would have to go find a security guard, and by then it's too late," Shannon said. "[And] teachers and staff could take photos of incidents, too. So once security does arrive there is proof of what happened."
Reporting incidents on college campuses also would be faster with the app, Shannon said.
"When a college student calls 911 while on campus, it is routed to campus police. The app allows for a student to reach campus police directly, which could result in a faster response from them, opposed to campus police being notified by Chicago police," she said.