Tuesday, August 21, 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
Officials believe body of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found

Officials believe body of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts found

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Investigators have recovered a body believed to be that of 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts, who disappeared from her small hometown in central Iowa a month ago, a spokesman for a reward fund said Tuesday. Greg Willey of ...
Updated: 25 minutes ago
Bowen: Is ‘Live PD’ tarnishing Pasco’s image?

Bowen: Is ‘Live PD’ tarnishing Pasco’s image?

The summer bucket list included reading more 20th century authors: Ernest Hemingway. Joseph Heller. Kurt Vonnegut. Check. Cops and criminals in the 21st century made plenty of appearances, too. Authors John Sanford and Ace Atkins are favorites.Check....
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Sarasota man accused of trafficking in bath salts

Sarasota man accused of trafficking in bath salts

As soon as he saw officers flip on the emergency lights, he ditched his bicycle, kicked off his shoes and ran.But it didn’t take long for the Sarasota Police Department to catch up with Michael Peterson, even after he ran into a telephone pole, fell ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Standoff ends in Lutz after man stabs mother with screwdriver

Standoff ends in Lutz after man stabs mother with screwdriver

LUTZ — A man stabbed his mother multiple times with a screwdriver before barricading himself in a Lutz home early Tuesday morning, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.The standoff ended about three hours later with Hillsborough Coun...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Head-on crash kills three, injures two children in Zephyrhills

Head-on crash kills three, injures two children in Zephyrhills

ZEPHYRHILLS — Three people were killed and two children were seriously injured in a head-on collision that took place Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash took place about 7 p.m. on County Road 54, west of Chantel Drive.Elv...
Published: 08/20/18
Crossing guard admits to accidentally killing gopher tortoise in Dunedin

Crossing guard admits to accidentally killing gopher tortoise in Dunedin

A crossing guard turned himself in to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, saying he was the person seen on video running over a gopher tortoise at an elementary school on Saturday. Robert Dantschisch, 48, saw surveillance video from the sheriff’s o...
Published: 08/20/18
Robber wearing gas mask fires shot in ceiling of Pasco store, deputies say

Robber wearing gas mask fires shot in ceiling of Pasco store, deputies say

Deputies are searching for a man who held up a convenience store with a shotgun while wearing a gas mask, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.On Friday at around 9 p.m., deputies say a man robbed the Beacon Square Grocery in Holiday. Durin...
Published: 08/20/18
Manatee youth football coach accused of dealing drugs

Manatee youth football coach accused of dealing drugs

A youth football coach in Manatee County faces drug charges following his arrest on Thursday.According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, deputies pulled over Edgard Theliar, 29, at the 3100 block of 15th Street E around 4 p.m. after he ran a re...
Published: 08/20/18
400 years later, Spanish coin is clue in mysterious death

400 years later, Spanish coin is clue in mysterious death

Before detectives found it inside a car in Colorado, before a St. Petersburg surveillance camera captured it hanging from Christie New’s neck hours before she was gravely wounded, before it was salvaged from the bottom of the ocean, police believe th...
Published: 08/20/18
400 years later, Spanish coin is clue in mysterious death

400 years later, Spanish coin is clue in mysterious death

Before detectives found it inside a car in Colorado, before a St. Petersburg surveillance camera captured it hanging from Christie New’s neck hours before she was gravely wounded, before it was salvaged from the bottom of the ocean, police believe th...
Published: 08/20/18