CLEVELAND -- The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is making it easier for customers to discreetly contact Transit Police from their mobile phone if they need help or want to communicate a concern.
Called See Something, Text Something, 216-575-EYES, the new system allows riders to simply send a text, photo or video message directly to Transit Police. There are no apps to download.
When police dispatchers receive notification of the text, they will text back and begin a “LiveChat” to determine the need and notify responding officers in the field.
“This program gives those who may not normally be willing to get involved a way to have a conversation with law enforcement without drawing attention to themselves,” said RTA CEO and General Manager, Joe Calabrese.
“Ensuring personal safety is our top priority,” Calabrese said. “We want to make it quick and easy for customers to communicate suspicious activity, and this new technology helps us do just that.”
RTA has always been on the forefront of using technology to improve safety on public transportation, Calabrese said.
“Several years ago we created the Talking Bus that notifies customers when the bus is making a turn, and we’ve implemented a number of other safety features on our buses and trains.
"Now with See Something Text Something, there is another way for us to use technology for passenger safety. Customers can send a text to 216-575-EYES, our Transit Police dispatchers will receive the texts and respond to collect more information so that our police handle the situation quickly and appropriately.This is a great use of technology that will help customers feel safe throughout our system," Calabrese said.
According to Transit Police Chief John Joyce, "RTA's Transit Police Department is committed to providing a safe and orderly environment, and to enhance the riding experience. Empowering our riders with the ability to assist in our mission to protect life and property within RTA's system is what See Something, Text Something is all about. 575-EYES will help our riders connect with law enforcement in a discrete manner, and might encourage those who might not normally get involved to do so. There is no limit as to what we can accomplish together when we work with our customers."
Administrative Transit Police Commander Sean O'Neil, who worked closely with the IT department on the project development, said this is an SMS text system that uses Artificial Intelligence (IBM Watson) to priority message police dispatchers.
"Transit Police have worked with a number of volunteers to help 'train' Watson by creating 'LiveChat' samples of emergency situations to build the knowledge base," said Commander O'Neil. "Transit Police have tested 575-EYES over the last few months to make sure that it is ready for launch in July."