The App In ‘APB’ Isn’t The Stuff Of Fiction

by Laura Rosenfeld
Adrian Burrows/FOX

Technology has changed just about every sector of our world, so why not law enforcement? That's the question that the new FOX series APB will pose when it premieres on Monday, Feb. 6 at 9 p.m. ET. When billionaire engineer Gideon Reeves (Justin Kirk) takes over Chicago's 13th precinct, he gives it quite the upgrade with high-tech cars, weapons, and drones, as well as an app that provides the officers real-time crime reports. It seems like this app will be an ingenious solution to fighting crime in this new series, so much so that it might make you wish that the APB app was real.

Well, your wish is my command, because I'm here to tell you that the APB app does actually exist, in a way. APB the TV series was inspired by the 2015 New York Times Magazine article "Who Runs the Streets of New Orleans?" by David Amsden, according to the show's website. That story details the founding of the real-life privately funded police force, the French Quarter Task Force, by successful entrepreneur Sidney Torres. Residents of New Orleans' French Quarter can use the App Task Force to summon the private police patrol to help crack down on crime in the famous neighborhood.

The app still exists today and can be downloaded for free through iTunes or Google Play. Users can report crimes through the app, as well as include photos and locations by dropping a pin on a map in their report. New features in the latest version of the app released in January also include the ability to view updates from the police, local FBI office, and the Task Force Facebook page directly in the app, according to the French Quarter Task Force's website. The app also has features to help the administrative side of law enforcement run more efficiently, such as allowing police officers to enter info on crimes for their trip sheets, shift management, and improved reporting.

As Amsden describes in The New York Times Magazine article, three armed officers of the French Quarter Task Force patrolled the neighborhood in matte black Polaris Rangers at all hours until they receive a notification via the app to investigate a crime report, similar to how Uber operates. Torres was able to track the location of the vehicle and its proximity to the reported crime via GPS. The story also describes a dispatch team assisting in getting the French Quarter Task Force members to the scenes of reported crimes.

The app in APB will work in a similar fashion as a real-time crime reporting tool for the Chicago Police Department's 13th precinct. It looks like it's going to take some trial and error for Gideon and his team to get the hang of responding to crimes reported through the APB app, and they do so in a very dramatic fashion. In the series premiere, the team receives a lot of erroneous crime reports, such as users mistaking shadows for perpetrators, as the below sneak peek shows. But with the help of some algorithms and a Sharpie, Gideon and his tech officer, Ada Hamilton (Caitlin Stasey), are able to filter through the noise to find where the real criminal on the run is headed.

However, the interface of the APB app looks fairly simple, as this preview clip of the series also shows. Each Incoming APB Call includes the crime report in text and the location coordinates of the call. Another sneak peek of the series also shows that Gideon and everyone else at the police headquarters will be able to track officers and suspects via GPS.

Whatever the APB app is doing in the series, it seems to be working. The end of an official trailer for APB teases that there will be a spike in the downloads of the app, not just in the 13th precinct but also among residents throughout all of the city of Chicago. Will Gideon and the rest of the APB squad be able to handle that kind of demand? That's going to be part of the fun of watching this new series.