Recently I blogged about the Santa Barbara fires. In it I included a few side comments about government agencies using social media to increase their level of communication to those in their coverage areas. I’ve felt strongly that tools like Twitter, and others, can be harnessed to better communicate with the general public. Imagine a regional combined dispatch center posting short, facts only, blog articles about current events. I’m not talking about something that happened last night, or yesterday. I’m talking about the car wreck that happened 5 minutes ago. The wreck that is still being dealt with on the scene!
We don’t need reporting, like the news provides. We need the most basic of info, fast. The details are not as important as the speed. I foresee government agencies restructuring their policies surrounding the use of Public Information Officers. Today, we have select PR-oriented PIO’s. Tomorrow we’ll have a small team of staff, under a Senior PIO. Each staff member will have authority to not only be interviewed on camera, but will also be free to write AND publish content to the web, rapid fast!
Many law enforcement agencies use actual peace officers for their PIO roles, others use hired guns. Which route they take in the future doesn’t matter as much as the freedom they are given.
Tomorrow will look more like this:
The car accident happens. A passerby calls 911. The dispatch center takes the call, and dispatches the police, fire, and ambulance. The shift’s PIO hears the call, and responds to the scene. As Fire makes the scene safe, and Po-po helps control the flow of traffic and determines what potential traffic laws were violated causing the accident, the EMS team begins treatment of all the casualties.
Meanwhile, the PIO is standing off to the side, gathering information. Within moments, he/she is posting a single paragraph post, to the regional public safety blog. Automatically, the post is Twittered. Updates will be added to the original post. This way there is a common thread of information, and late-comers will read the whole piece in one location.
The point here is that the PIO is publishing information, before the local news agency. Raw information, right on time!
So, I took my vision, and wandered around for a bit. I’m curious how many others feel this way. What do you know?! I found several law enforcement agencies already using Twitter! Awesome! They may not BE where they need to be, but at least they’re taking the risk. Good for them! Below are the few legit agencies I could find.
- Santa Fe Sheriff, Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Ada County Sheriff, Boise, Idaho
- Johnson County Sheriff, Johnson County, Kansas
- Fresno Police Department, Fresno, California
- Manteca Police Department, Manteca, California
- Baltimore Police Department, Baltimore, Maryland
- Boston Police Department, Boston, Massachusetts
- Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Boynton Beach Police, Boynton Beach, Florida
- Texas A&M Police, College Station, Texas
- Toronto Police (Traffic Services), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Police Notes, Anonymous Law Enforcement Officer, Florida
Oh, and don’t forget about me! My Twitter.
I thought I’d add a few quotes from a handful of the Twitter accounts above. Very well done!
“Deputies conducting free boat inspections in the Wal-Mart parking lot bring your boat or personal watercraft to be inspected and stickered!”
“Injury Accident just came out at 199th St. and 169 Highway. Initial reports are Semi Truck and two vehicles involved”
“HOMICIDE ARREST: Sami Abduss McCargo was arrested for the April 11th murder of Quinton Savage @ 2800 Winwood Ct.”
“Can you ID this armed robbery suspect? http://bit.ly/17NFc5”
“Texas A&M Police May 2009 Crime Map (updated 5/12/09) http://ow.ly/6wu1”
“Robbery is theft from your person when the perp uses force, threats, intimidation, or is armed. Your house can’t be robbed but you can.”