MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ –The Borough Council heard a proposal for an app that could ease residents’ involvement in reporting problems at its Tuesday, April 2 working session. ‘Report it’ Co-Founder Raymond Sobieski and Sales Director Andrew Fydryszewski gave a presentation on the app.
The ‘report it’ app allows residents to anonymously report a problem, such as a pothole or any suspicious activity to the appropriate borough authority, Sobieski explained. The app is currently in use or will soon be in use in several New Jersey towns. Among them are New Brunswick, Teaneck, Old Bridge and Plainfield.
According to Sobieski the app can be part of the school security system as well as it allows staff and students to anonymously report suspicious activity, bullying or self-destructive behavior of a student. Similarly, the app can support both the community watch and animal control programs. Some towns use it for Talk to the Mayor-programs, he explained. The app is available in iOS, Android and all Web-enabled devices.
The cost of the program is $150/month for up to five reporting destination departments within the municipality. Currently all such calls go to the police department in the borough. The reporting is based upon geographical location of the caller and the app automatically directs the report to the subscribing municipality. The app also provides access to community resources, such as mental health hotlines and law enforcement agencies while protecting the app user’s identity. The app has the capability to translate from approximately 100 languages into English and it supports individuals with disabilities.
Councilwoman Deanna Andre pointed out that when she and Council President Keith Turner were on their campaign trail many residents had expressed their willingness to have this kind of reporting system available in the borough.
Councilman Rene Dierkes asked if there is a way to identify “fake reports.” Sobieski said that fake reports have not been an issue in the towns where the app is available. Turner pondered the need for anonymity in a small town, such as Mountainside. Sobieski explained that the anonymity increases the community engagement in town-wide issues.
The council decided to contact similar New Jersey towns that are using the app prior to making a decision.
The regular council meeting will take place on April 23.