Portsmouth police joining forces with Waze

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Police in Portsmouth say a new partnership with a smartphone app could help speed up response times and make it easier for drivers to dodge traffic.

The police department has joined the Waze’s Connected Citizens program. Waze is a navigation app that allows drivers to report what’s happening on the roads.

The department says they’ll soon start regularly monitoring the app in order to respond to calls for service faster.

“If we have a pothole or some type of sinkhole that we may not known about, the citizens can put that in Waze and we will know about it and we can respond,” said Detective Misty Holley, spokeswoman for the Portsmouth Police Department.

Drivers can report the activity hands free, too.

Holley says police personnel will update the app with information about construction zones, school zones, areas with heavy traffic and special event information. This will allow drivers to see which areas to avoid. Waze will instruct drivers in the area on how to navigate around problem spots.

“If we can find a way to help us expedite and speed up our response time to calls, such as accidents or even when there is something in the roadway blocking the road, that can help our citizens to help them get where they are going and helps us get these calls cleared out a lot sooner.”

Executives with the mobile app say the service relies on drivers. The company says the information on the app becomes more reliable when more people report incidents.

“We know that accidents in some cities show up on Waze 5 to 10 minutes before they are called into 911,” said Julie Mossler, head of brand for Waze. “Working together means that we will be able to take better care of citizens by knowing road closures ahead of time and uploading those to the maps.”

In May, Waze says nearly one million users in Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and West Virginia reported 1.8 million alerts to the app.

Portsmouth police say they’ll soon work to implement a Waze display screen at their dispatch center. Holley says it’s possible officers could even report incidents from their patrol cars.

Download the Waze app for iOS or Android here.

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