VeriSign and Hill Holliday won the MITX Award in the "Best Use of Mobile" category for the project, titled "Breaking the Code of Silence with Text."
"We were thrilled that the Crime Stoppers Text a Tip program was selected as a winner. It demonstrates how mobile, and something as simple as text messaging, can be a very powerful communications tool. It was rewarding to work on an initiative to help better our communities, and we thank the Boston Police Department and the City of Boston for the opportunity," said Thi Linh Wernau, head of Mobile Marketing at Hill Holliday.
The new Crime Stoppers program enables Boston residents to anonymously provide information about crimes. The service uses text messaging, one of the most widely used mobile communications technologies, to combat the "stop snitching" culture that has made some witnesses hesitant to come forward. Aimed primarily at mobile users between the ages of 13 and 24 -- the group most likely to have information about violent crimes -- the "Text a Tip" program augments the department's existing Crime Stoppers telephone tip line.
The program has triggered a dramatic increase in tip line activity. During Text a Tip's first two months, from June 15 to August 15, the Boston Police Department received 365 text and phone tips, compared to 133 tips during the same time period the previous year. While the majority of the increase in tips came via text messages, calls to the Crime Stoppers phone line also increased by 50 percent. Not only were more tips sent, but the text channel also allowed the Crime Stoppers Unit to engage tipsters more extensively, with some text conversations lasting more than an hour. Text tips have led to the arrest of two murder suspects, while others have helped police uncover a number of leads on other unsolved crimes.
Boston Police approached Hill Holliday searching for a way to get the community more involved in solving and stopping crime. The agency originated the concept of using texting, a communication channel familiar to kids, as a crime fighting tool. Hill Holliday then developed pro bono an advertising campaign that launched in June. It featured a picture of a large police badge with a message engraved on the badge. "You are not right to remain silent." The agency enlisted VeriSign to power the Boston Crime Stoppers text messaging platform.
VeriSign powers the Boston Crime Stoppers text messaging platform. VeriSign also provisioned the C-R-I-M-E short code and manages the system's intuitive user interface. Despite its back-end complexities, for citizens the system is as simple as texting the word "tip" to C-R-I-M-E (27463). The information received is channeled to a police department interface. The VeriSign system masks all personal identifiable information (e.g. mobile phone numbers) before sending any text messaged information to the police department. Through the interface, the Boston Police Department can immediately exchange messages with the tipster to obtain information about the crime and the details necessary to respond rapidly.
"VeriSign is proud to provide the technology and infrastructure that underpins this groundbreaking service -- one that ingeniously takes advantage of a growing trend to help Boston's citizens work with the Boston Police Department to keep their neighborhoods safer," said Charles Meyers, senior vice president of digital content and messaging services, VeriSign. "Enabling secure communication is one of our core strengths at VeriSign. This program shows what's possible when innovative minds collaborate to leverage that capability to benefit an entire community."
Hosted annually by MITX, or the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, the MITX Awards is the largest and most prestigious awards competition in the country for interactive and web innovations and celebrates the best creative and technological accomplishments emerging from New England. This year's 12th annual event was made up of 33 categories, judged by more than 100 industry professionals, and drew more than 1,000 people to its awards ceremony in Boston. For more information or a complete list of winners in all categories, visit: http://www.mitxawards.org
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About Hill Holliday
Hill Holliday, owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies and headquartered in Boston with offices in New York, Miami and Greenville, S.C., is one of the top communication agencies in the nation. Hill Holliday has won every major award for advertising excellence and effectiveness and has among its roster of clients leading national and regional brands including Anheuser-Busch, AOL, Bank of America, Chili's Grill & Bar, Cleveland Clinic, Covidien, CVS/pharmacy, Dell, Dunkin' Donuts, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, Liberty Mutual, The Massachusetts State Lottery, Novartis, Partners Healthcare, Procter & Gamble, the Rockport Company, Toys "R" Us, TJX Cos. and Verizon Wireless. Hill Holliday can be found on the Web at www.hhcc.com
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