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See Say Smartphone App

Posted on May 21, 2012

Today, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Transit Police Department announced the release of the See Say smartphone app. With this new iPhone App, riders are able to easily and instantly report suspicious activity on the MBTA to Transit Police. In just a few clicks, riders can share pictures, text, and incident location details.

“Transit Police are always looking for new tools to empower riders and keep the system safe,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Paul MacMillan. “With this new app, we continue to empower riders to be our eyes and ears in the system.”

“Reinforcing the MBTA’s reputation as a national leader in public transportation technology, this new app encourages daily commuters to play an active role in our ongoing efforts to maintain a safe and comfortable transit environment,” said Jonathan Davis, Acting MBTA General Manager.

The related “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign is funded by a grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s Transit Security grant program. It promotes a collaborative effort of state and local agencies working together educating the public to be more aware of their surroundings, and report any behavior that may appear suspicious to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities. The MBTA originally adopted the campaign in 2003, based upon a campaign implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The MBTA is the first transit system in the United States to launch a smart phone application as part of the “If you see something, say something” efforts. This new app allows MBTA riders to proactively communicate with transit authorities and also to receive alerts from authorities in emergency situations. In addition, the See Say app: 

  • Is designed for transit and other environments with limited cell service, sending reports immediately once riders have signal.
  • Is discrete - riders may choose to send reports•anonymously and a rider’s smartphone flash is automatically turned off when taking a photo of something suspicious.
  • Routes reports to a web console at the Transit Police dispatch center, where a dispatcher then manages reports from riders.
  • Allows 2-way communication so riders can receive and comment back on alerts from Transit Police (eg. “I see the missing person”) and for the Transit Dispatcher to ask a rider for more detail regarding a specific report from a rider.
  • Alerts riders when there is a delay or service issue via built in T-Alerts.

The application was developed through a partnership between the MBTA and ELERTS, creators of an industry-first personal safety social network for emergency notification. ELERTS is creating better emergency response systems by embracing high-speed mobile networks, smartphone technology and social media.

“People get it. We need to be watchful to help protect each other. The See Say App makes it easy for riders to contribute to improving safety on the transit system,” said Ed English, CEO of ELERTS. “We’re proud to roll out this industry first with the MBTA and hope others will recognize the power of new technology for safety and security.”

The See Say application can be downloaded for free from from or the iTunes app store

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