Ah, so you're interested in giving the Relay platform a spin? Just like 911, the Relay platform is a live, active system, and testing or experimenting could result in triggering first responders to your location. Instead, for situations like yours, we have our demonstration environment. Read on to get started.
Okay, we're really glad you're here to help us radically improve the systems that you work with every day. While modernizing your technology is part of our mission, we're also here to make things safer and more effective for you.
Why does Relay matter?
You may be thinking to yourself that this is "one more thing to do," but we hope you'll find over time that the magic of this platform comes from your ability to work directly with Relay users as you would with people out on the street, but with more effectiveness and safety; this is where the power of Relay comes from.
We've seen Relay used to:
- Ask neighbors to quickly snap pictures of activity outside and around a home suspected to have inhabitants dealing drugs, providing cause for stops ultimately resulting in multiple arrests
- Send broadcasts alerts out to a few specific city blocks where an elderly man with dementia had gone missing; neighbors using Relay saw the police broadcast and supplied tips where they'd seen him, leading to quickly finding the man and ensuring his safe return
- Alert daycares and schools to shelter in place during an active shooter situation, keeping them apprised of the situation as it developed and led to a swift resolution
- Allow confidential reporting of a child abuse case, complete with photos and other documentation that resulted in 2 kids being moved to safer guardianship
- Data collected via Relay revealed a trend of reports related to a sex-trafficking operation at a massage parlor (really), ultimately launching a larger investigation that is still ongoing
There are loads of other situations we've seen after just 6 months in, and it's humbling to see people coming together to make their communities safer. Of course, this is just the beginning. We've got a lot more coming.
First: log in, but better
We're constantly rethinking how to streamline and make things easier. If something about our platform is confusing to users, we own that and feel deep responsibility for it. That starts with logging in.
Relay works in either your smartphone's mobile browser or on a laptop, like your MDT/MDC's web browser. To sign onto Relay Responder in our demo environment, visit responder-qa.relayapp.dev. The first thing you'll notice? No password field. Sure, we offer the usual email-and-password option, but we support one-time magic links by default. Each time you log in, trigger an email to yourself, click the link from your email, you're logged in. That's it.
The call queue
Once you're signed in, you're immediately shown the call screen:
As you can see, calls are grouped by "Open", "In-Progress" (Claimed), and "Resolved." The status of a call works through in this order. Here's what each step means:
- Open calls are newest into the system. Citizens using Relay have snapped photos and assigned a pinpoint GPS location to the location of the call, as well as provided an explanation of what's going on, and more. Nobody has been assigned to respond to these calls yet. Clicking on one opens a screen where you can review these details and claim the call, assigning yourself to it.
- In-Progress calls have been claimed by a primary officer, and are being actively responded to. You can still click on any of these calls to review details, but also can choose to "Resolve" a call, meaning you'll be clearing/closing it out, concluding any work on this particular call.
- Resolved calls have been cleared out and don't require any further action.
To take the next action (claim or resolve a call) or to review the details around any call, simply tap on it:
You'll note you can also send a message here, requesting additional information from the reporting party. In many cases, officers tell us they can get enough details to clear the call without even physically running on it.
Additionally on the call queue screen, we provide filter controls, so you can easily narrow down the kinds of calls and timing you'd like to focus on:
Reports, search, and data
One of Relay's core value propositions is to agencies who want to be more data-driven in their practices. Data-driven policing programs, when used responsibly, can offer insights that can help with more efficient policing practices. Relay supports many ways to slice call data; click on "Reports" to explore.
Some of this data has been used to detect crime trends– outbreaks of car break-ins, for example– and to be able to proactively patrol or otherwise monitor areas where these spikes occur. What can be gleaned from this data can help inform a number of your decisions
Additionally, there are times where you just want to pull up "that one call," or maybe a few calls on a certain street. For that, you can use the search function. Type in a street name, something from the description, or even the text of your response to a past incident– it's all there:
You can further refine your search using an additional set of filters for address, type of call, reporting citizen's name, and more.
Another one of our heavily-requested features is the ability to send geotargeted alerts out to citizens using Relay. We call it Broadcast: sending these alerts out, you can be as specific as a city block or as broad as your whole jurisdiction and beyond.
Why would you need this? We've seen agencies issue BOLOs out via a Broadcast, soliciting tips via Relay to help them track down suspects. Informing key business owners in an area about active shooter situations. Issuing health advisories and social distancing guidelines.
To send a Broadcast, simply click on the Broadcasts link in the top right, the click "New Broadcast" and complete the required fields– a location and broadcast radius, message, severity, and category. Optionally attach photos of suspects, the scene, or any other important context you want citizens to know about. Click send, and it's out. Simple, but effective.
Demoing Relay Citizen
Thus far you've read about how to get going with Relay Responder, which is the software we've built to work in the web browser (like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox) on your phone, MDT/MDC, laptop, or other internet-connected device.
Relay Citizen allows citizens to access the Relay platform via their web browser or by downloading a mobile app.
Via Web Browser
This is probably the easiest way to get up and running. Once you've signed in via Relay Responder, you can use the same username/password to Access Relay citizen via web browser
Via Mobile App
If you're on an iPhone, you'll need to follow the instructions here:
They'll guide you through downloading TestFlight, which is an app that lets you try out other apps. Once you have TestFlight installed, return to the link above to get access to download Relay Citizen.
If you're on an Android/Google phone, simply follow this link:
You'll be automatically added to the test program. On the confirmation page, click on the text "If you don't have the app installed, download it on Google Play" to get the app.
Once you have the Relay Citizen app installed, you can use the same username/password you used for Relay Responder to log in.
What did we miss?
We're always working hard to create tools that are super clear and obvious to use, but sometimes things end up confusing for our users. If there's anything that's not quite working the way you'd expect, or it's flat out broken, let us know at email@example.com. Someone from the Relay Team will be in touch promptly.
Be a part of something big.
As a last note, Relay isn't some social network full of noise– we want to make something really useful to everyone. We're really passionate about bringing communities closer together to collaborate in making where we all live a little safer and enjoyable. We firmly recognize we can't do that in a vacuum– that's why we've done hundreds of interviews, feedback sessions, and ridealongs. And we're not stopping any time soon.
Relay can and should be purpose built hand-in-hand with the people using it. If you've got ideas, concerns, questions, or just plain want to talk about what makes a community safer, we're here for you. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org any time.