Social media is part of our world and, some would argue, essential to our personal and professional lives. Private sector organizations would certainly agree—in recent years, few communications or customer engagement campaigns are complete without a social media component. The public sector response has been more muted. Yet increased demand from citizens for governments to share and collate information means the pressure is on to embrace social media, particularly in the context of public safety and policing.
While public sector organizations have been less inclined to adopt new technologies in their operations, they are no strangers to the benefits. With the advent of advanced analytics and identification being eased by digital technologies such as face recognition, the science of solving crimes has reached new levels of sophistication and accuracy through high-tech means. But what if the police could stop perpetrators in their tracks before they commit a crime?
Many police forces and public safety agencies are realizing that social media is not simply online dialogue but a means to facilitate rapid response and acquire better data. From intelligence capture using new analytic technologies to uncover communications patterns and analyze sentiment, to wide-scale word of mouth channels to share crime prevention or safety advice, build trust and connect with the public, social media can help forge closer links with citizens and communities.