Wayback Wednesday: 1994 – Launching the Phoenix Police Dept website

Laura Giacoppo - Phoenix Police Internet presence

What were you doing on New Year’s Eve 1994 when Protovate co-founder, Laura Giacoppo, was rocking mall hair (#savedbythebell) and inventing the Internet with Al Gore?

Ok, that’s not Al Gore. It’s actually Phoenix police Detective Bobby Palma from a December 31, 1994 article in the Arizona Republic watching as Laura showed him how she put the cases from the department’s Silent Witness program online.

Phoenix Police Department Website c.1996
Phoenix Police Website developed by Laura Giacoppo of Protovate in 1994

Silent Witness was shown during the NBC affiliate news weekly. It featured unsolved missing person cases and crimes and asked the public to phone in tips for the possibility of getting a reward.

The site became the cornerstone of the Phoenix Police Department’s website, one of the first law enforcement agencies in the world online in the earliest Internet days to have a web presence.

Unsolved Mysteries 1995 Website
Unsolved Mysteries website – 1995 – Gradient! Ohhh, so cutting edge.The Silent Witness site was big news for the times and police departments around the world asked Laura to help get their version of Silent Witness online.

And then an unimaginable thing happened. The producer of the hit TV show Unsolved Mysteries called and wanted a website! 1995. Amazing. And that, Laura says, is when she knew “this Internet thing was going to catch on someday.

Laura brought the Phoenix Police into the future while working as the Web Director (there was barely a web at all!) for gritty, guerilla marketing ISP startup GetNet, which was 5 people in a 200 square foot room selling $9.99 dial-up accounts off a 56K line they leased from another AZ ISP Primenet. 

GetNet was one of the first internet providers in Arizona and was in direct competition to be king of the commercial web with the first Internet Service Provider in Arizona, Internet Direct, the very company Protovate CEO, Brian Pollack worked for.

But that, as they say, is a story for another day. 


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