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Developing the OneCOP App Part 1: Preliminary Scoping

In October 2019, it was announced that MovementForward was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The title of the grant is ‘Innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction’ and it is a 4 year grant for $1,000,000. One of the primary deliverables for our award is a mobile application, the OneCOP App. The OneCOP App will be piloted in the Near West Collaborative community of southwest Indianapolis, where we hope to use the app to augment our existing work in Indianapolis, and eventually expand nationwide. In this series, I will be writing about how we are developing the app and explain some of the decisions we are making.

What is a project scope?

A project scope is a predefined list of constraints (cost, timeline, functionality, etc…) and a definition of success for the project. I like to think of it as the rails that the project is riding on. If you ever feel that a project is going ‘off the rails’, it is probably because the project was poorly scoped or the scope is ‘creeping’ out. You can also think of the scope on a rifle and, once you take aim, your focus is entirely on what is seen within the scope, not to be distracted by anything out of view.

How we are scoping

In our grant proposal, we included a two-phase scoping process. The preliminary phase was our internal scope, a list of functionality that we believe would result in an incredible tool for the community and law enforcement agencies. We detailed the results of our internal scoping session into our project narrative and have begun work on the foundational elements of these features. The second phase of scoping is community driven, we are establishing an advisory board of community members in our pilot area, the Near West Collaborative of Indianapolis, that will help us identify other features that will be helpful and further constrain the scope we identified in our preliminary phase. We expect to finalize the scoping exercise by the end of Q1, 2020.

Preliminary Phase: Scoping for the grant

While applying for the grant, we knew we wanted to build the OneCOP app. It has been a goal from the beginning of the OneCOP program to have a suite of technology that will supercharge our efforts in our partnered communities. Within our project narrative, we broke down ideal functionality into the four main components listed below. You will notice that these areas of functionality are not extremely explicit, we elected to be a little more broad in our grant application so that we could use community input to further refine our vision after the work began. We will be constraining the project further during the second phase of scoping with the community advisory board. The following excerpts are from our project narrative submitted with our grant proposal.

Incidents and Statistics

It is crucial to provide information to residents about what is happening in their community. OneCOP partner, Motorola Solutions, has provided access to their Crime Reports API. OneCOP will work with IMPD and the Marion County Sheriff to connect the Crime Reports system to their internal incident management systems, and/or implement another automated process to provide crime data to Near West Collaborative members through the app.

Educational Media

Through OneCOP’s partnership with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and major law enforcement groups (Natl. Sheriff’s Assoc., Fraternal Order of Police, Natl. Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives., Natl. DA’s Assoc., and Intl. Assoc. of Chiefs of Police) OneCOP will create content for educating the public about life ‘behind the badge’. This will include videos about citizens’ rights and guidelines on what to expect during police interactions like traffic stops. Short videos will be hosted on a cloud-based flat file storage system, like AWS S3, and will be accessible through public endpoints.

Public Safety Agencies

The app will be able to collect and share public contact information for all public safety agencies playing a role in the Near West Collaborative. This includes URLs for the various services and tools offered to the community, social media profile information, and geospatial boundary data for zones, beats, and precincts. In addition, the app will have a component called TipSubmit, which will provide the capacity for community members to submit tips to law enforcement regarding crimes in their neighborhood.

Communication and Information Sharing

The app will promote and facilitate communication and information sharing between the Near West Collaborative and public safety agencies. It will include a feature to disseminate information and updates about the NWCCR project within the cross-sector partnership to community members and to other local government/criminal justice partners, promoting greater knowledge and understanding of the project, its successes and challenges, and information regarding the value of research and evidenced-based practice. The app will also enable officers to communicate with the community through the app, without anyone having to share personal contact information.