Thursday, May 24, 2018
Public safety

Sheriff's Office rolls out traffic app in Hillsborough

TAMPA — Smartphone apps that aid in reporting crimes are nothing new, but the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is pushing the technology in a new direction with an app meant to provide real-time traffic and weather reports.

The Audio Traffic Hillsborough app, unveiled Thursday, stems from a collaboration with the app's creator, West Palm Beach-based Audible Media Group.

The technology debuted a month ago but was officially rolled out at a news conference where company executives offered reporters a demonstration of its audible traffic reports. The app is for Apple and Android mobile phones and tablets.

"I think what we love most about the application is it's voice-operated," Maj. Chad Chronister said. "You press a button and the rest of it you hear by voice, which means there's not one more thing to contribute to distracted driving."

Similar to radio traffic reports, Audible reports local traffic conditions, including any event "that could hinder traffic around the county," president Jeffrey Kottkamp said.

"There's nothing like it. You won't have to wait a half-hour for the traffic report," typical of many radio news cycles, he said.

Kottkamp, who was lieutenant governor under Charlie Crist, said the aim is to offer traffic information that does not require hands-on searching on mobile devices.

The company debuted its first mobile apps in June in Palm Beach County and in August in Jacksonville. Next, it's eyeing a collaboration with Miami law enforcement and early next year plans to develop an app with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, he said.

The download is free and came at no cost to the Hillsborough agency. Similar to radio, the company derives revenue from advertising sales. At the sheriff's end, officials said they hope the app offers another bridge to residents. Hillsborough unveiled an app two months ago to report crimes. Tampa rolled out a similar app about a year ago.

"This really was a no-brainer to us," Chronister said of the Audible Media app. "Anything that provides up-to-date information that's helpful to the public, Sheriff (David) Gee is for."

Roger Koch, the company's chief executive, said it employs three reporters in Tampa working separate shifts from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. At some point, it might expand to later hours and possibly weekends. Eventually, it might also provide users with customized reports, such as targeting traffic on the Howard Frankland or the Veterans Expressway.

"That's something we're looking at," Koch said.

Traffic remains the focus of its programming, though reporters are free to air stories about significant crimes, weather issues or other events affecting travel across Hillsborough.

In addition to chronicling conditions on county roads, the reports also touch on traffic on city and state highways — "anywhere in Hillsborough and on the bridges," Koch said.

Contact Rich Shopes at [email protected] Follow @richshopes.

Comments

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Coast Guard suspends search for man missing from Tampa cruise

Coast Guard suspends search for man missing from Tampa cruise

The Coast Guard announced Wednesday night that it has suspended the search for a man who was reported to have gone overboard from a cruise ship that left Tampa.Officials aboard the Carnival Paradise told the Coast Guard on Tuesday morning that Brian ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

TAMPA — The two cars raced each other along Bayshore Boulevard just before noon, witnesses told police. One was a black 2018 Mustang. The other a gold Nissan. They sped side-by-side, trading the lead, police said, despite the traffic and pedestrians ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Sinkhole opens up near Bayfront Health’s Brooksville hospital

BROOKSVILLE — A large sinkhole opened up by Bayfront Health Brooksville hospital in a water retention pond between State Road 50 and the hospital’s parking lot, according to a hospital spokeswoman.The sinkhole poses no threat to hospital buildings, e...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Clearwater deputy fire chief resigns as report on sick leave abuse is released

Clearwater deputy fire chief resigns as report on sick leave abuse is released

CLEARWATER — A months-long probe into abuse of sick leave within the fire department concluded this week with the resignation of a deputy chief and the release of an internal review.The city paid $93,816 in unearned or unauthorized sick time, benefit...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Wrong-way driver, 87, dies in head-on collision, FHP says

Wrong-way driver, 87, dies in head-on collision, FHP says

BROOKSVILLE— An 87-year-old wrong-way driver died Tuesday night when she collided head-on with an oncoming pick-up truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash took place at about 8:50 p.m. on Sunshine Grove Road near Webster Street.Patri...
Updated: 11 hours ago
FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

FDLE: Victim in $480,000 scam is heiress to Wrigley gum fortune

A woman state authorities say was scammed out of $480,000 by two of her employees is an heiress to the Wrigley chewing gum fortune.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Tuesday that the victim in the case is Helen Rich, 69, formerly Hel...
Published: 05/23/18
Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

Carlton: Lowering the American flag for the newly dead at school — again

In a scene repeated at public buildings across the country, the American flag in front of the library outside my office window was lowered to half-staff this week.This time for 10 dead in Texas.In February, the American flag was similarly half-staff ...
Published: 05/23/18
Largo man broke into jewelry store, cut himself on glass and bled all over everything, police say

Largo man broke into jewelry store, cut himself on glass and bled all over everything, police say

A Largo man was arrested Monday after police said he broke into the front door of a jewelry store and stole $10,000 in jewelry, but cut himself in the process and left blood all over the store.Police arrested Jaime Williams, 31, on a charge of burgla...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18