Columbus leaders turn to app to boost city-wide safety

Columbus leaders turn to app to boost city-wide safety

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - If you think city and public safety leaders need to work on making Columbus a safer place, you might find a new technology as a step in the right direction.

On Friday, city administrators met to launch a new high-tech way to boost safety around town, particularly on the River Walk.

"Here would be easy, I could say well I'm at the water tower, everybody knows where the water tower is, but if you go a few hundred yards down the river the lovely magnolia tree might not be obvious as a description of your location," said Major Stan Swiney with the Columbus Police department.

For runners, explorers, tourists, and those just out for a stroll, Piper can help first responders find you in case of an emergency.

"Columbus is ready to enter this new era of prosperity," said Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.

Safety transmitters can help you directly dial 911 from the app on your phone, and are already set up along the River Walk, "But we are in process of working with Piper and them to extend that out to the Rails to Trails, the Fall Line Trace, so eventually any public, hopefully, any public space where location is a challenged, there's not an address, we'll have these beacons there to help the public," said Swiney. 

The new technology can also be used for other purposes explained Wesley Ker-Fox, the co-founder of Piper. "Piper is an app that lets your phone receive messages when you walk past little devices called i-beacons, so it can be a range of marketing messages, or tourism messages, it could be text notifications or videos," said Ker-Fox.

The app is already being used at Columbus State University to make the campus experience even more interactive, especially for prospective students.

"We do tours every day at 10:30, but you can come and take a Piper tour and get messages along the way without ever dealing with any of us strange administrators," said John Lester with CSU.

The app is free and can be downloaded on all i-Phones and Android systems.

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