FirstToSee Aids Tacoma Police With 30-Year-Old Cold Case

Missing resized

Tacoma PD is now using FirstToSee to possibly solve a 30-year old cold case. The Tacoma Child Abduction Respone Team (CART) used FirstToSee to monitor social media posts mentioning Michella Welch and Jennifer Bastian, two girls who were murdered in 1986. Additionally, detectives used the FirstToSee app to record field interviews.

"Recently our team had the opportunity to use the FirstToSee system during an investigation that had heavy media exposure," said Lieutenant Robert Maule. "What we found in FirstToSee was a very promising platform that provided team members with a view of what citizens were seeing and reporting to each other regarding our incident. This ability to monitor those social media posts directed at our investigation provided the team with completely new opportunities to potentially solve our case. In addition, the mobile app portion of the system holds a lot of potential for our detectives in the field running down leads."

"Our team was impressed with the FirstToSee system and we look forward to practicing with it as a child recovery enhancement tool soon," he added.


FirstToSee Helps Ensure 2015 U.S. Open’s Success!

The 2015 U.S. Open brought top pro golfers and hundreds of thousands of fans to Pierce County. FirstToSee played a role in making sure everyone had a safe, fun time. The system allowed Pierce County and other agencies to monitor social media and maintain situational awareness during the event. “Our solution provided augmented situation awareness that enabled responders and community leaders to be proactive in responding to possible incidents,” FirstToSee Developer Dan King said about the U.S. Open. “We received rave reviews from our users about the system’s ease of use, time savings, and insight into public opinion through social media.”

Chambers Bay



FirstToSee nabs STC award!

Pierce County’s FirstToSee project has received an award for being among the best new tech sites and mobile apps in the Northwest. FirstToSee leverages the latest technology so the public and first responders can quickly share information in a disaster.

The Society of Technical Communications (STC) presented with a merit award for excellence in graphic design, layout and technical writing. Judges also praised the FirstToSee mobile app for excellent design and functionality. The project team is being honored alongside professionals from major Northwest companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing.

“Aiding in emergencies is one of those basic responsibilities that we have to do well every time,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “That’s why I’m so proud of our FirstToSee program, because it truly embodies the best of what citizens expect from county governance.”

About the award

The STC is a professional association dedicated to the advancement of technical communication. Each year, the Puget Sound Chapter of the STC invites Northwest tech professionals to submit websites, tutorials, brochures, and other media for competition. For an entry to receive an award it must be thorough, accurate and well executed.

FirstToSee wins two national awards!

Pierce County leads the nation when it comes to using technology to protect the public in a disaster. That’s why the County has received two national awards for the FirstToSee emergency system.

The FirstToSee system provides the public and responders new tools for quickly sharing information during a disaster. This revolutionary system uses the latest mobile and social media technology to give emergency professionals greater situational awareness. FirstToSee just received a NACo achievement award for excellence in emergency management. Additionally, won an Apex Award of Excellence for outstanding graphic design and Web content.

“I’m incredibly proud and happy to see these departments recognized for their innovations in making government more accessible,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. “By consistently finding new and better ways to provide outstanding customer service, District Court, Information Technology and the Department of Emergency Management are truly setting the standard for interactive government.”

About the project

FirstToSee is a regional system that gives the public and emergency experts the power to see, share, and help. The free FirstToSee mobile app allows users send reports and photos of what they are seeing in an emergency. Meanwhile, emergency professionals can use the FirstToSee system to quickly filter incoming reports, as well as view them on a map. Additionally, the system can search and collect key information from social media, RSS feeds and news media.

FirstToSee was made possible through a federal grant and the partnership of Pierce County with Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER).

About the awards

The NACo Achievement Awards represent excellence and innovation in county government programs. This year’s winners represent 27 states and 97 counties. More information is available at

The 2014 Apex Awards is an international competition that recognizes outstanding publications from Websites to newsletters, magazines and annual reports. APEX awards were given in 122 individual categories within 11 main categories. More information is available at


John DeWeese, Pierce County Information Technology
(253) 798-6207
[email protected]

Erich R. Ebel, Pierce County Communications
(253) 798-6220
[email protected]

FirstToSee Supports Oso Recovery

Government Technology has profiled how FirstToSee helped support the Oso landslide recovery. The article also discusses how the system leverages existing online networking technology to vastly improve emergency management and preparedness in the Puget Sound region.


FirstToSee agency agreement now available

Thank you for your interest in the FirstToSee system. Your agency can sign up users to view the system without signing an agreement with the FirstToSee team. By signing the following agreement, your agency can use and manage your data in the system, including the ability to manage social media.

FirstToSee Agency Agreement

Please know that there are no charges for using the system at this time. As an agency using the system, you will also be included as a member of the FirstToSee Advisory Board.

Please know that your employees who use the system and have rights to edit data will need to sign the agreement form marked Exhibit B.

If you have questions about the agreement, or have completed the signatures for the agreement, please contact or send to:

Linda Gerull

IT Director, Pierce County
Merit Building
Suite 300
615 S. 9th St.
Tacoma, WA 98405
[email protected]