Hours of paperwork saved by app

A Christchurch tech company’s app is helping New Zealand Police banish thousands of hours of paperwork.

Developed by UC alumnus Reuben Bijl, Smudge Apps has collaborated with the New Zealand Police to develop the OnDuty Family Harm Investigation mobile application, which enables frontline police to combat family violence by giving them access to complex information at the touch of a fingertip. 

It’s safe to say the app has transformed the way police officers operate by effectively banishing lengthy paper-based forms to make way for the intuitive mobile application.

“Previously, police officers attending a family violence incident had to complete a 13-page paper form,” says Smudge Managing Director Reuben Bijl.

He says, the apps Smudge has built for New Zealand Police are saving over 500,000 hours of police time every year – valuable time that frontline cops can be spending on activities with more impact.

Smudge is the brainchild of Reuben Bijl and Toby Vincent, who taught themselves how to build mobile apps as a summer holiday project.

Ten years later, Smudge-designed apps have been downloaded more than eight million times and the team have partnered with several highly recognised brands, including Vodafone and the NZ Police to create variety of user-friendly products.

Growing up in Canterbury, Bijl says he was obsessed with technology from a very young age and enjoyed tinkering with devices and trying to figure out how they worked.

“One of my earliest memories was blowing up a computer by playing with the voltage selector switch,” he says. 

His interest in technology was complemented by a love for playing and listening to music, including studying classical piano at the University of Canterbury and being part of the choir at Christchurch Cathedral.

That ability to combine arts and science to solve problems ultimately inspired Bijl to set up Smudge with co-founder Toby Vincent, with a vision of using technology to enable people to make their lives easier. 

A good example of this is the New Zealand Police OnDuty Family Harm Investigation app which launched May this year, and is being hailed as “world leading” by overseas forces.

Now used by 9,000 officers around New Zealand, OnDuty’s capabilities has been a game changer for police. The app allows officers to search names, scan driver licences and search for related people, anytime, and from any location.

Bijl says Smudge are “super proud” of the work they’ve done with the Police – and so they should be. Their latest app recently won the NZRise Excellence in Software Award at the NZ Excellence in IT Awards – yet another example of the world-class, connected and creative work coming out of Christchurch’s tech sector.

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