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Wanted: Cool Apps that Fight Crime

January 1st, 2009

CIO Council

When mobile phone users get tired of playing games, they can download a seriously cool app—one that helps the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) find fugitives, terrorists, and missing kids.

With the latest information provided directly from the FBI, the free Most Wanted application offers on-the-go access to photos and information from the agency’s lists, including Top Ten Most Wanted, Most Wanted Terrorists, and Missing Children. It was developed by NIC, an eGovernment service provider, in cooperation with the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs, and is now available for Droid and Palm Pre, as well as the iPhone.

Michael Lilly, the Office’s Online/Print Media Unit Chief, says the application grew out of the popularity of the agency’s widgets, which first appeared on in 2007 and now include several different mini-applications and modules that users can post on blogs, Facebook pages, and other websites. “We are almost positive that we had the first widgets in Government,” Lilly says. “When NIC saw our widgets page, they realized they could use the content we were already delivering through widgets and RSS feeds to create an app.” Since February, the app has been downloaded 840,000 times for iPhone, 60,000 for Droid, and 30,000 for Palm Pre.

Turning Traffic Into Tips

The Most Wanted app is one of several high-tech tools that are raising the public profile of the FBI, aiding recruitment efforts, and increasing traffic to the Crime Tips page. After rolling out a suite of new web initiatives—including an email alert service, syndicated news feeds, podcasts, and widgets—the agency has also set up shop on social media websites Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Popular FBI videos of the moment include “Scientists Hunt for D.B. Cooper Clues,” which not only shows how the agency is using new technology to search for clues in the mysterious 1971 disappearance of hijacker D.B. Cooper, but also invites the public to submit information on the case to the Seattle Field Office.

“The more eyeballs the better,” says Lilly, summing up the agency’s philosophy on social media and related tools. “The more we get out there, the more chance we have of finding fugitives and missing kids, and solving cases.”

More information on the Most Wanted app is available at