Police wasted €400,000 on 'redundant' emergency app: report

Dutch police
A sign hanging in front of a Dutch police post. April 30, 2006Photo: M.M.Minderhoud via Michiel1972Wikimedia CommonsCC-BY-SA

The police invested hundreds of thousands of euros into a new 112 emergency app that, due to delays in launching it, has since become redundant. The main goal of the app, which was to be launched in the spring of 2017, was to send callers' locations directly to the emergency services without the caller having to give the address. That is now being done with other technology - Advanced Mobile Location, RTL Nieuws reports based on documents in its possession.

In 2016, the then Ministry of Security and Justice urged the police to develop an app with which citizens could call emergency number 112 and have their location automatically sent to the control room via a data connection. The plan was to launch the app, which cost 400 thousand euros to develop, within four months. 

At the time the Ministry and police knew that other countries were already using Advanced Mobile Location (AML) to trace a caller's location, without needing an app, according to the broadcaster. AML was launched in 2016. But the Ministry and the police gave top priority to the development of the 112 app, resulting in the introduction of AML in the Netherlands fading into the background. 

Due to delays and setbacks, the deadline to launch the app in the spring of 2017 was never reached. Construction of the app only started in February 2018. In that period the current Minister of Justice and Security, Ferdinand Grapperhaus, suddenly announced that - contrary to all previous decisions - he is giving priority to the introduction of AML. Making the main function of the 112 app completely obsolete.

In a response the police acknowledged that "the location function of the 112 app is practically unnecessary", according to RTL. "It is being examined whether functionalities can be added to the app, such as image or a chat function", a  spokesperson said to the broadcaster. The police are now looking into whether the 112 app can be launched next year.