Text carrier Zipwhip has formed a partnership with the city of Middleton, Wis.—a suburb of the state capital of Madison—to enable residents and visitors to send texts to the Middleton police department’s longtime landline number for non-emergency services.

With Madison being the location of the largest university in the state, a significant population within Middleton are students or young adults that use texting as a preferred means of communications, according to Keith Cleasby, a dispatcher and social-media manager for the Middleton police department.

“Text is a priority way of communications, I think,” Cleasby said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “We wanted to open the lines of communication with the community, and we thought this was a perfect way to do it.

“I think it’s just going to be an optional way for people to get ahold of us. I think there are people out there that don’t want to bother the police with a phone call that probably would not mind sending us a text message.”

By using Zipwhip, the Middleton police department was able to enable its non-emergency line to receive almost unlimited texts while retaining its traditional functionality as a voice line, Cleasby said. The cloud-based Zipwhip approach did not require a new line to be established, was easy to set up, and has been straightforward from an operational standpoint, he said.

“There was nothing for us to install on our computers,” Cleasby said. “It’s a Web-based program that you sign into that’s constantly running in the background on your computer. It’s monitored by our 24/7 dispatch center.

“It’s just like sending a text and receiving a text on your cell phone. It’s actually easier, because it’s on your computer, so it’s a full-sized screen and it’s your full keyboard. When you receive a message, it pops up like a priority message; you hit ‘Reply’ and start typing on your keyboard. It’s extremely easy.”

This flexibility and simplicity is a key tenet to the Zipwhip value proposition of text-enabling landline phones, whether it is being used by appointment-based enterprises like dentists offices, or a police department, according to John Lauer, CEO of Zipwhip.

“This is true, real, honest-to-goodness text messaging,” Lauer said during an interview with Urgent Communications. “You just type in their phone number in your text app that everybody uses every day and send your message. … If you had to download an app, this product would never work.”

 “Texting is the most pervasive medium out there. So, you’re letting police departments participate in the most pervasive medium. It’s almost awful to think that they couldn’t. They’re servicing the public, and the public uses—as the number-one medium—texting.”