An EU grant worth over £500,000 has been awarded to West Yorkshire Police to fund ground-breaking research into a mobile app used by those caught up in a crisis.
The cash will fund the Athena project, named after the Greek Goddess of wisdom, for the next three years.
The project aims to develop technical applications or “apps” for smart phones and mobile digital media devices.
They will then capture real-time information from the public during crisis situations.
A launch event attended by partners and board members took place this week at the Double Tree Hilton Leeds to unveil the project.
West Yorkshire Police is the first UK police service to coordinate the delivery of a European Commission security research project of this scope and scale.
Backed by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, and West Yorkshire Chief Constable, Mark Gilmore, the Athena project is being led by Detective Inspector Andrew Staniforth, who heads up the International Projects Programme Team.
Mr Burns-Williamson said: “This project demonstrates our continued commitment to investment and innovation and shows that West Yorkshire Police is leading the way in ground-breaking research.
“This ties into the Strategic Policing Requirement (SPR) which sets out what, in the Home Secretary’s view, are the national threats that the police must address and the national policing capabilities required to counter those national threats.
“I have continually stressed the importance of finding new funding avenues and ways to invest in our communities as we face such severe and continued Government cuts, and this grant demonstrates how we can access new funding while also leading the way nationally and internationally in research.
“There is a pressing need for innovation by public bodies and is vital to the strategic health of any organisation, including ours.”
DI Staniforth said: “Athena seeks to capture real-time intelligence directly from the public in order to complement a bigger, overall picture of significant incidents.
“There have been many examples across the world where security events have seen members of the public using their mobile devices to share what they have witnessed. As well as the challenges this brings, such instant communication opens up a wealth of opportunities for crisis managers.”
Chief Constable Mark Gilmore added: “Social media has revolutionised the way people and communities communicate and it’s vital that the emergency services keep up with the pace of change.
“The Athena project is focused on developing a product that will benefit not just the people of West Yorkshire, but communities and emergency services worldwide.”