Iowa City police request bids for cell phone-mapping software

The Iowa City Police Department is hoping to get cell phone-mapping software to help with investigations.


Kate Pixley, News Reporter

The Iowa City police will soon be home to cutting-edge cellphone tracking technology.

The software will be used to assist investigators in criminal cases.

Information is obtained through search warrants, and location is ascertained through cell-tower triangulation or GPS.

“The city of Iowa City Police Department is soliciting proposals from vendors that will be able to provide investigation software that specializes in providing research data,” a press release from the city said.

According to the Request for Proposal released by the city, the software must have the ability to research phone numbers including mobile phones, map phone records received with search warrants, help analyze phone records for link analysis and call-frequency lists, and analyze and map other records provided by services and other companies or software that provide location data.

Applicants must follow the same equality guidelines required of the city of Iowa City, according to the contract laid out by the police.

“It is the policy of the city of Iowa City to require equal-employment opportunity in all city contract work. This policy prohibits discrimination by the city’s contractors, consultants, and vendors and requires them to ensure that applicants seeking employment with them and their employees are treated equally without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, and age,” said the Request for Proposal.

Police Lt. Zach Diersen said the software would help the force analyze important data in criminal investigations.

“It’s a software program that allows us to take data from cell towers that we’ve gotten via search warrant, and it helps us map phone locations and a multitude of things on top of that,” Diersen said. “But basically, it helps us organize data that we’re receiving with the search warrant on criminal investigations.” 

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Cellphone mapping technology was previously used by investigators in the case of Mollie Tibbetts, a University of Iowa student who was killed in July. Detectives on that case used social media, cellphone data, and data from Tibbetts’ Fitbit to help investigate the case, as previously reported by The Daily Iowan.

Cristhian Rivera, 24, was charged with first-degree murder in her death.

The Iowa City police did not previously have access to the software, but Diersen believes it will be useful. Nothing specific spurred the department to make the request at this time, he said.

“This is just something new that has come out that we’ve been made aware of in the last year or so,” Diersen said. “We believe that we can use it to benefit our criminal investigations.”

The contract will be for three years at the minimum with options to renew the contract for two additional three-year terms after the expiration of the original contract.

Companies are invited to place bids through the city of Iowa City website. Interested parties must submit five copies of their proposal by mail to the city by 2:30 p.m. Oct. 23.