When we last coveredGrafetee, co-founder Juha Huttunen mentioned to us that their geo-location platform was working on some interesting partnerships, but law enforcement was not the angle I would have predicted. The Helsinki-based geo-location app is now being beta tested with Finland's police force, who will be monitoring images and text submitted through a certain channel on Grafetee.
Police will also be able to send location-based updates to warn users of situations. The app is both location-aware and time-sensitive, so Grafetee will only display content when they are near a location or specific event.
It should be noted that rather than this being a tool for emergency services, Grafetee and the Poliisi have built this aspect of the service to be a platform where people can communicate with the police and leave suggestions and ideas on how to make their neighborhood safer. In the case of emergencies, citizens should still call 112, the Finnish police emergency number.
The police are not pouring over every new update and share left by Grafetee users for crimes, but are rather monitoring a specific feed, named Lähivinkki (roughly translated as "neighborhood tip"), for shares from citizens who would like to get in contact with the police. Huttunen points out, "It's our service but the police is very actively involved and will read and comment the notes left by people, and leave their own notes as well." Users without an iOS or Android phone can also submit their issues through the website lahivinkki.com.
It hasn't been long since we first covered Grafetee, but the app can somewhat be described as an all-encompasing platform for location-based services. It does this by breaking down location-based information into feeds. Pulling up the app you can see all the geo-tagged Wikipedia information in your area, you can see yelp reviews of the stores around you, tourists can tap into the VisitHelsinki collection of locations, and they now have the Oikotie (real estate / apartment finding) feed of places to live.
In a more personal sense, users can add their own collections of locations for your own apartment hunting, or you could make a feed of your own tourist locations you want to see in a city. The app also does not ignore the time dimension, making it suitable for appointments and schedules.
Rather than plugging in all of this information by phone, users can use a bookmarklet in their browser to quickly add information from a webpage. Grafetee is also aiming to get online services to add Grafetee buttons to their websites, which allows users to download location and time information to their phone at the click of a button.
Finland's police force has not been afraid of new digital platforms. The force has a few Nettipoliisi, such as this guy, who post on Facebook about police work and public safety, much like a public relations service. Their Facebook strategy gives citizens a tool to easily engage their police and offer a channel for feedback, especially for problems that don't require a call to 112.
Grafetee fits into that strategy, according to Huttunen. "This service we're launching is more or less similar in idea by bringing the police closer to the people and offering people a channel to give feedback."
The company points out that these simple sharing events become even more powerful when organizations like police and emergency agencies adopt the service. Poliisi spokesperson Petri Marjamaa from the National Police Board commented, “We are adopting Grafetee to test how a social media service is applicable to make the neighborhood safer and to help residents to influence their own neighborhood’s safety."
Lots of value seems to be coming to Grafetee's by acting as a platform for other services, rather than as just a standalone location-bookmarking service. The long-term vision for Grafetee is to have software that knows where you are, where you are going, and what you like. Grafetee then uses that data to serve you with information on happenings, events, or places, that you walk by. My only complaint with Grafetee is that I don't enjoy how the app runs location data all the time, especially considering that my phone's battery life seems bad enough as is.
But I've found the service and concept around Grafetee becomes more and more useful as more users join, more public feeds are added, and as more partnerships (such as with Poliisi) are implemented. The service is still very young, but it's not bad to have the police on your side.