The technology behind podcasting has some great features like easy subscription, automatic delivery, aggregation, other benefits of RSS, etc… But simply put, podcasting is just the sharing of audio and video clips over the internet. But which form is better or more effective, audio or video? You can listen to audio from anywhere, but video is often more engaging. Thus, for some circumstances audio maybe appropriate, whereas in others video podcasts maybe better served. For Law Enforcement, both audio and video podcasting can be used to in different ways to serve the same overall purpose. Here are just a few examples of law enforcement can use podcasting in both its forms:
Audio clips are great for quick updates.
Audio clips save time with media contacts.
Video is great for sharing visual information of a suspect – For example surveillance videos.
Video is an effective tool for educational purposes.
This blog post is one in a series that describes some of best and most interesting ways police use social media. This post is limited to Law Enforcement’s use of Twitter.
Twitter is a micro-blogging service in which users can share or “tweet” messages of 140 characters or less. You simply follow those users whose tweets you want to see in your Twitter feed, and those who want to see your tweets, will in turn, follow you. The more value people see in your tweets the more followers you will have, and thus more eyes on the messages you are sharing. This presents an interesting premise for law enforcement. How can police use Twitter to provide valuable information for their citizens, and at the same time use it to fight crime in their communities? Well, I thought I would list a few examples on some interesting ways some police departments have been using the popular micro-blogging service.
Boston Police – Stolen Bikes
The Boston Police Department has a social media presence on Twitter and Facebook. You can follow the department on Twitter @Boston_police, or follow its stolen bikes campaign.
A neat way that the BPD is using Twitter is to find track down stolen bikes. It is part of the city’s overall campaign to make Boston a great bicycling city.
“As part of our initiative to make Boston a world-class bicycling city, the Stolen Bike Alert program makes reporting stolen bikes easier and increases the chances of finding your stolen bike by giving you a larger network of search parties.” From The Stolen Bikes Community Alert website.
“When you report a stolen bike, we send out an alert to the police, local bike shops, hospital and school security, and everyone who follows us on Twitter or Facebook.” - From The Stolen Bikes Community Alert website.
For other ways to keep up with the Boston PD or connect with the city of Boston on its social media networks visit the city’s website.
Toronto - Traffic Services
Traffic Sgt. Tim Burrows at the Toronto Police department is on top of the social media conversation, and maintains the Twitter account: @TrafficServices. Sgt. Burrows “gets” how to use twitter. He contributes to other blogs, and speaks about social media at conferences as well. Burrows uses Twitter to share traffic updates and efficiently move traffic around Toronto’s most congested areas. By advising drivers of traffic situations not only can citizens avoid time consuming traffic delays, but police are able to respond to emergency situations quicker as well.
Notifying the public about traffic situations is an overall part of the City’s mission to promote traffic safety.
“The Traffic Safety Programs section was created as a result of Traffic Safety being made a Service Priority by Chief Fantino in 2001.” - From the Toronto Police Department’s Traffic Services website.
Twitter such a powerful to for disseminating small but important updates to a mass amount of people – perfect for the Toronto Police Department’s Traffic Services. The Twitter account @TrafficServices has close to 3,000 followers.
Australia – Drinking and Driving
Do you want an embarrassing and detailed description of yourself to be shared everyone following the Melbourne Police Department on Twitter? If not, perhaps you should think twice about taking that next drink and going for a drive around one of Australia’s most populated districts.
Victoria Police have used twitter to discourage drunk drivers by tweeting detailed description of their cars, as well as descriptions of drivers themselves.
Example of a tweet from @VictoriaPolice: “Idiot 1 - A 42yo man from Stony Creek. He blew .17 after police caught him driving down the wrong side of the Sth Gippsland Hgwy in Berwick.”
Police have undertaken this initiative using social media to reach out young drivers as well. They recognize drinking and driving is a major problem among the younger generation, and what a better way to connect with young people than social media – a web space in which teens and young adults live.
“Many young people use Twitter on their mobile phones, even when they’re out drinking and socializing,” he said. “If posting the details of bad behavior on Twitter stops even one person from getting in their car and driving drunk, it will be worth it.” - Read full article.
Denton Police (Unofficial) - Mugshots
The Denton Police department has benefited from Twitter and the TwitPic feature. You can post pictures using TwitPic through the site itself, or even using your phone. The link to the picture (TwitPic) appears in your tweet, thus making it to view and share.
@DentonPolice account is strictly devoted deterring crime through posting crime description, suspect description, and most important the suspect’s mugshot. TwitPic allows for easy sharing and viewing of the mug shots. Even if you do not have a Twitter Account, your picture (mugshot) might be infront of the almost 2,000 followers – If you’re a wanted or recently captured criminal in Denton, that is!
The Twitter ID @DentonPolice is not an official Denton Police account. It was created by Brian Baugh, a student at the University of North Texas. Although, the student has been asked to take down the page since he not an official of the Dention PD, he has chosen not to do so due to its popularity. It is all legal as well, as Baugh is simply re-sharing what is public information already.
The account bio reads: “The unofficial Denton Mugshot twitter for Denton, Texas. Programmed by a UNT art photography student, drawing attention to how much public info we put online.”
The Twitter account doesn’t have to be official to humiliate criminals and deter criminal activity in the city of Denton.
I came across this speech a few days ago when a colleague recommended I watch it and that it would “really speak to me.” He was right. As a social media enthusiast and keen follower of online media and communications development, I found this speech to be quite informative and insightful. Leo Laporte, creator of the “This Week in Tech” show and the “TWiT” podcast network addressed the Online News Association, discussing views on traditional media, social media, online communications in general, and marketing in the world of Web 2.0.
Laporte, who turned to podcasting after a number of failures in traditional media, outlines how similar businesses can bypass the traditional media and avoid some of its pitfalls. Traditional media is more the masses, it is expensive to participate in, and your message is changed, shaped and diluted to appeal to the mass audience. This audience is loosely engaged, and the marketing strategy for advertisers is simply trying to reach one out of every thousand-or-so viewers. For niche businesses like Laporte’s “This Week in Tech” show, traditional media was not effective. However, for such a specialized show Laporte recognized that he had a niche market of followers. Although, these followers were highly engaged and very interested in the concept of the show, they were too small of a cohort to target using traditional media – due to some of aforementioned pitfalls. Laporte was able to find an innovative way around this problem.
Laporte created the “TWiT” network, a podcast targeted for his niche audience and delivered in a way that bypasses traditional media, cuts costs, and allows him to share the information that he wants. In doing so, Laporte was able to garner a devoted and highly engaged audience that was already interested in tech sector, and therefore, charge $70 CPM to advertisers who wanted to reach this market. This is the beauty of social media and online advertising. It is a cheap and effective solution to disseminate information, and creates highly targeted market in which to promote. Advertisers have tasted the “crack of Facebook and Google” and no longer want the “shake weed of traditional media.”
So, as Web 2.0 democratizes the media and allows anyone to become a broadcaster, does this inevitably spell the end of traditional media as we know it? Laporte seems to think so, however, he also believes podcasting may not be the end solution. Laporte knocks podcasting in the latter end of speech, stating that “podcasting is dying” and that “it is too hard.” Yet, all signs indicate podcasting is not dying, in fact it shows no stop in growth. According to a study by eMarketer, podcasting is up 11% from last year in the US, and users will more than triple by 2013. The fact that podcasting is a difficult tool to use is also becoming something of the past. For example, using Dailysplice’s $99/year Multicaster tool, TWiT’s network could be set-up in less than five minutes, without TWiT having to manage any part of the web hosting or infrastructure of the podcast. In addition, rising podcast demand is creating more and more services that use RSS and make subscription easy. For example, TiVo has developed a new feature that will all you play podcasts.
I have been covering the Law Enforcement 2.0 subject for a while, so I think I should make a point to discuss how this article relates to police. What a brand is to a company, a reputation is to police. What a market is to a business is a community base for a department. In order to effectively build a reputation of trust and integrity with the community, police must provide their intended message to those who want to hear it. Law Enforcement already has an engaged market – the community in which it serves. People have a vested interest in their local PD’s operations as it is directly related to public safety and well-being of citizens, therefore, the community is already interested in what Law Enforcement has to say. The main goal of a business is to maximize revenue, whereas, the main goal of police is to combat crime. No matter what the goal, it is more likely to be accomplished when an agency (business or police) is able to deliver its intended message to its target audience. In past many police agencies have not been able to do so, again because some of pitfalls of traditional media. This reminds me of something Sergeant John Price, former PIO at Saanich Police, said about his department’ decision to use podcasting: “Only about 30% of what I send out actually gets covered [using traditional media]. With the podcast, if I have something important say, I can place one phone call and speak directly to all my media contacts and our community.” - View complete DailySplice police case study.
The social media is becoming the new and most accepted form of media, as news providers and advertisers are moving into the web 2.0 space. Whether you are a business with a niche market, or a police department with a community base you have sworn serve, your best method of disseminating your message is through the social media and online tools. This is where you public lives! Podcasting is just one way to accomplish your communications goals, but definitely one of the most effective weapons in your social media arsenal.
About a month ago I started a group on LinkedIn called Law Enforcement 2.0. This group was created to facilitate ideas and discussion on the topic of social media and its role the in law enforcement industry. The purpose of this blog post is not to promote my group for personal gains, but to further inform you on quality resources available for social media and police online. Law enforcement 2.0, in my opinion, just happens to be one of those resources.
The subject of Law Enforcement 2.0 is still in its infant stages and there are not too many great resources out there, except of course, some of the websites I have covered in my past blog posts. For this reason, I created Law Enforcement 2.0 - a place where thought-leaders, police officials, others in the industry could come and discuss all issues pertinent to policing and new social media, or just learn more about the subject. The results have been better than expected. The feedback and participation has been great, and the resulting discussions quite intriguing. Along with the uniqueness of this niche group, some of the success can be attributed to the business-oriented platform of LinkedIn and the professional caliber of those who have joined the group.
The group has attracted people from all facets of the social media and law enforcement sectors. Group members include industry thought leaders, social media experts, communications professionals, police officers, and other law enforcement officials. Any one discussion may include view points from each of these cohorts. The diversity of opinion and perspective is what has made the discussions so engaging.
Discussions so far have been very insightful and thought-provoking. From educational posts that give examples on “the best ways police/ emergency services use social media,” to current event updates like “September is national preparedness month,” to opinion pieces like “what do police want from social media?” – the group discussions create value for its members. One my recent discussion posts that I think will pick up momentum very soon is covers law enforcement 2.0 and the legal aspects behind it. Police must uphold a certain ethical and legal standard when sharing information with the media, and extending this into the social media conversation will no doubt make for some interesting discussions in the near future.
As the subject of social media and law enforcement continues to expand and gain prevalence this group will continue to grow as well. I look forward to watching the group grow and become a leading platform for all discussions pertaining to policing and web 2.0 technologies. I encourage anyone interested in the subject to join the group and contribute any feedback or ideas you think members will find valuable, or just check it out if you want to learn more.
A recent discussion in the group Law Enforcement 2.0 (LinkedIn) has sparked my interest on the subject of police education and social media. This discussion began addressing resource constraints many PDs face and how it affects their social media campaign. The issue of planning then came up, and how a well thought-out plan would help police not only implement a social media strategy that fits their operations, but also help them counter problems as they arise. In this discussion I wrote: “If law enforcement officials could see exactly how sm can be used, how resources could actually be conserved, and how communities do get involved then they would have a better idea of where sm fits into their operations….Education leads to better planning, and better planning leads to better problem solving.” However, where can this education come from? Who is willing to provide a comprehensive social media guide for police?
Although, blogs like Mike’s social media blog, Cops2point0, or ConnectedCOPS are a good start, there is no one authority leading the way on this educational initiative. So, I thought writing a blog post with some social media strategy examples for police would be a good idea. Seeing how others have effectively implemented social media may help some PDs develop their own strategy, or at least see where to get started. I have outlined four examples of social media strategies used by police, that in my opinion, are some of the most progressive and leading-edge campaigns out there.
I would like to thank Christa M. Miller, author of Cops2point0 for the discussion post on Law Enforcement 2.0.
The Vancouver Police Department
The Vancouver Police Department, in Vancouver British Columbia, does a very a good job with its social media strategy. The department has a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, and a blog called “Behind The Blue Line.” The Department’s Facebook page allows VPD followers (fans) to keep up to date with discussions on the latest local crime issues, view upcoming department events in the community, and serves as an effective forum for recruitment.
Most of the Facebook posts link back to the department’s blog, “Behind The Blue Line.” The blog’s author, Cst. Sandra Glendinning, “hopes to use this blog to share with others what it is like to be a police officer in Vancouver, what it is like to work for the VPD, and how ‘the job’ has changed her view on many things.” If nothing else, the blog helps bring the VPD closer to the community it serves by developing a relationship between blog readers and Cst. Glendinning. To disseminate information through video and audio clips the VPD has chosen a YouTube channel. They post a variety of training, recruitment, and “in the media” videos, as well as informative safety clips for the public.
The VPD does not use Twitter as of yet, and there is no podcast delivered from its website. However, its social media strategy is ahead of many other PDs around. “In all, these social media tools have resulted in dramatic success for the Vancouver Police Department. ‘Our applications to date have effectively doubled’ ” notes Inspector Tom McCluskie, the Officer in Charge of the VPD Recruiting Unit. (http://www.icontext.com/services/web/web20.php )
Source: LinkedIn group, Law Enforcement 2.0 - discussion topic: Best ways police/emergency services are using social media. Post by: Mike Waraich.
Boca Raton Police Department.
The Boca Raton Police Department has taken one step further than any other department I have seen, as it has implemented a fully branded crime-prevention strategy. The VIPER project is a community policing program launched by the BRPD to fight crime and provide a highly interactive platform to engage with its public. VIPER (Visibility, Intelligence, Partnerships, Education, Resources) is a well rounded plan to help BPRD meet its community policing goals, and social media is only one facet of this plan. What the PD uses its social media tools for comes directly from the mission of the VIPER strategy. In the case of the VIPER program, the BRPD has chosen to use social media for the “Education” aspect. In addition to crime reports and traffic updates, the department uses Twitter to relay crime-prevention tips, safety advice, and other educational information. Facebook is used in a similar way, but as more of a two-way channel for discussing and sharing crime info between the public and its PD. The department also uses Nixle to provide immediate information via text or e-mail during an emergency situation, and Chief Dan Alexander has his own Twitter Account and blog, as well.
This is a great example of how a social media strategy needs to be implemented. It is not as simple as setting up a Facebook account, or just tweeting crime updates, it needs to be carefully planned and developed. You need to have an overriding mission with specific goals in order to use social media effectively in your crime-prevention efforts, and the BRPD’s VIPER project is exactly that!
Bellevue, Nebraska Police Department.
The Bellevue, Nebraska PD does a great job at SM. They use Twitter in a way I haven’t seen other PD’s use, which is that several officers’ tweets using their real names and then they’re retweeted into the official PD stream which is posted on the homepage. Followers can just follow the PD and/or individual officers. They use Nixel for emergency alerts. The department has a Facebook page and the K9 Unit has a separate Facebook page. Both are fairly active with discussions and photo galleries. The Community Policing Unit has a blog for the use of Neighborhood Watch members.
All the tools “talk to” each other. the blog post are automatically tweets. Nixle alerts get automatically tweeted. Twitter feed on the homepage and etc. Additionally, their website is full of quality information about all their units and awards the officers have won. It’s truly a progressively-minded PD. They’ve written a social media policy and strongly encourage their officers to get involved with all department SM initiatives.
Source: Linkedin group, Law Enforcement 2.0 - discussion topic: Best ways police/emergency services are using social media. Post by: Lauri Stevens.
Saanich Police Department.
The Saanich Police Department is the first of its kind in Canada, launching Canada’s first police podcast. A Podcast is an audio or video file shared between internet users - authors of a podcast and the subscribers who view them. The Saanich Police department delivers a range of podcasts for its subscribers, from quick updates regarding important recent issues, to crime prevention and safety tips, to an unsolved crimes podcast to keep cold cases in the eye of the public. “Victoria’s Saanich Police are targeting the iPod generation, becoming Canada’s first podcasting police, and among the first in the world to use online multimedia to keep in touch with the community” http://tinyurl.com/ldpuff.
Twitter, Facebook and Nixle are great for text based messages, but what if you need to share audio and video with a large network of followers? Podcasting is the answer. Subscribers automatically receive new audio and video on any internet compatible device as soon as the podcast is released. Unlike YouTube, a Podcast Station is delivered straight from your site so users do not have to leave your webpage to get information.
“What motivated us was an understanding that podcasting is the fastest growing form of communication in the history of communication, and we wanted to be a part of that.” Said John Price, the department’s public information officer. He also added, “When we do regular media releases, I send them out to an email list and sometimes make individual calls to all my media contacts. But only about 30% of what I send out actually gets covered. With the podcast, if I have something important say, I can place one phone call and speak directly to all my media contacts and our community at the same time and it will always be available on the website.”
Saanich police have pioneered the way police departments communicate with their constituents by analyzing what its community wants and then providing it in manner they prefer. The department’s efforts are a great example of how social media tools can be used for the benefit of police (getting more than 30% of news stories covered) and the public they have sworn to serve (instant updates, advice, helpful hints etc.. on any internet compatible device).
September is National Preparedness Month in the US.
During this time governments and other public safety authorities will be disseminating a ton of information regarding emergency preparedness and response, and encouraging citizens to “understand what it truly means to be Ready.”
My interest in this subject is the application of social media in emergency preparedness. As we have seen in the past social media can play a major role in emergency events. From Twitter breaking the news of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, to the Los Angeles Fire Department communicating wildfire information via Twitter, to the students of Virginia Tech using Facebook to share critical information after the 2007 shootings, we have seen the potential communication benefits of web 2.0 tools under emergency circumstances.
As the world of new social media evolves so too does its role in emergency preparedness. During the next big emergency situation or natural disaster, not only will we see Twitter and Facebook used more effectively, but other social media tools will come into play. Here are just some of the advancements in new social media that will undoubtedly help us all better prepare for and manage communications during a crisis.
Emicus - Community Powered Emergency Information - is free online tool for emergency preparedness during natural disasters. The website’s mission is to “make it easy for you and your community to get and share disaster information.” Website features include a services map to find critical services such as gas, building supplies, pharmacies etc; information sharing via an iphone apps, mapping tools, Twitter and Youtube accounts, and an SMS system for text alerts; and a News and Hurricane Tracker that is constantly updated to provide the most current news about a hurricane or hurricane warnings. The website also has a lot of other neat features and preparedness advice as well.
iPhone markets its apps by claiming “there’s an app for almost anything,” and they’re right, there are even apps for emergency preparedness. One iPhone app called “Hurricane” developed by Kitty Code is a hurricane tracking application that gives you the ability to track violent storms and see where they are heading. The tracking map lets you see where the storm is coming from, where it’s going, and displays hurricane stats like speed, direction, pressure, and distance from you. Such technology did not exist during Hurricane Katrina and one can only wonder how the outcomes would have differed if it did. Another good example of an iPhone app is called “Outbreaks Near Me,” which it tracks H1N1 flu outbreaks. It can be used to alert users when an outbreak is reported in their area and provide real-time outbreak news and information. A pandemic can be a very devastating crisis with people frantically looking for current news and updates on the virus, “Outbreaks Near Me” puts this information at the fingertips of users.
Podcasting is the next step for public safety authorities to take in their social media campaigns. Many emergency services use Twitter and Facebook to share timely info with their constituents, although effective, an even richer means of communication can be disseminated just as easily. Podcasting is a social media tool that delivers rich audio and video content to subscribers via RSS (Really Simple Syndication). You do not need access to a Twitter or Facebook account, just the RSS Feed URL for a podcast and you can access the podcast from any internet compatible device. Audio and video content can be a lot more effective for important information like “how to” instructions or relaying ground zero information.
At DailySplice Technologies, we have developed one of the easiest podcast management tools in the industry, with features especially handy for the emergency services sector. One of the features, called “FieldCast,” allows a first responder to record a podcast straight his/her mobile phone, as simple as leaving a voice mail. A first responder that cannot easily access Twitter for a 140 character notification can quickly dial in an audio podcast as soon he/she appears on the scene and let everyone know what the circumstances are. Characteristics like the first responder’s tone of voice or background noise help people define what the situation on ground zero is really like. You can easily see how this technology may be of great potential benefit for crisis management.
Social media shouldn’t define communications for disaster preparedness, but act as an important information sharing tool in your emergency communications tool kit. If used correctly as a part of a strategic and comprehensive emergency preparedness plan, social media can save lives!
Mike Vallez has launched his very own DailySplice PodcastStation for his social media blog called: “social media’s impact on Law Enforcement and National Security.” Vallez’s expert opinion is now available in an audio format that is easy to subscribe and listen to from any device with an internet connection. Although, Vallez has already been podcasting for about seven months and loving it, he has not come across something so user-friendly. Vallez likes the tools and features of a PodcastStation and believes he will put it to good use as the topic of social media within law enforcement inevitably becomes more popular.
Last week I blogged about Vallez, a knowledgable social media guy with a background in law enforcement. I became aware of Vallez’s blog while doing some research for our company’s most recent police education project. It was obvious Vallez knew what he was talking about and would be a great resource on the topic. We have referred to Vallez’s blog many times for current articles and relevant information, and now finally we are able to return the favour!
The inaugural podcast episode in Vallez’s new PodcastStation is about the Whole Foods Boycott. In this episode Vallez talks about the Whole Foods story, the intentions of his blog, and why he thinks “law enforcement is the perfect place to use social media.” Check it out, and as Vallez reminds us after each podcast episode, “stay in the conversation.”
In the realm of new social media and law enforcement what makes a person a thought leader? Is it an officer who totally understands social media, or is it a social media expert who done extensive work in the law enforcement industry? On a rare occasion you will find someone who falls into the category of social media expert and sworn police officer. Mike Vallez is such a case.
Although, Vallez doesn’t refer to himself a social media expert, stating he was “not active in the web’s social media” until February 2009, he is now fully immersed “in the conversation.” Vallez is webmaster for Altegrity.com, focusing on social media. He is also a former police officer for the City of Tampa, Florida, as well as a former Federal Contract Investigator with USIS. Vallez’s current expertise and past experience has given him the perfect tools to create michaelvallez.com, a social media blog for law enforcement. The blog covers a variety of articles related to the application of social media in law enforcement agencies, and it’s Vallez’s unique perspective and understanding of issues that makes people want to read his opinion. His blog posts are informative and insightful, and it’s easy to see that Vallez truly “gets it.” He remains true his roots as a police officer, while encouraging social media strategies for law enforcement because he “feels that in the not too distant future social media will be an established early warning system for hazardous incidents, crime, etc throughout the world.”
Vallez is on top of the “Law Enforcement 2.0″ subject, and I look forward to using his website as an important resource in the future!
In addtion to working for Altegrity, Vallez is the founder of a website called www.crazymikesapps.com (CMA). CMA is an iPhone app review blog that has become one of the top iPhone informational websites around.
Another great resource for law enforcement and web 2.0 - ConnectedCops.net. This website is a forum of rich and relevant content for policing, its use of social media, and all of the discussion surrounding it. The website includes articles, interviews, papers, links to other relevant sites, and other meaningul forums of information exchange. Lauri Stevens, principal consultant for the website, takes pride in the relevance and usefulness of the website stating “we will not waste your time” and only provide “content about social media usefulness, success stories, SM innovation in law enforcement, SM policy, how specific LE specialty areas are using SM an etc.”
Along with some great interviews and articles, the site has a very nice blog roll with some valuable resources, and convenient links to Stevens’ most recent Twitter updates. I recommend reading The Ingredients of a Solid Social Media Policy for Law Enforcement Agencies - It outlines specific guidlines for police departments to follow when undertaking a social media strategy. Although, social media can be a very valuable part of a police department’s communications strategy, it it not as simple as just creating a Facebook/Twitter/Podcasting account. Police are held to a higher standard for their media relations and must use social media carefully.
About three weeks ago I blogged about a website called Cops2Point0.com. These sites are very similar in their missions to provide pertinent content and facilitate related discussions. Site administrators actually contribute to each others web pages. The main difference, in my opinion, is ConnectedCops is aimed primarily at law enforcement officials, whearas cops2point0 discusses the subject of web 2.0 technologies and law enforcement in general. They are each valuable in their own right and I will continue to regularly keep up with both of them.
ConnectedCops.com founders and contributors include Stevens, Police Chief Dan Alexander for the Boca Raton Police Department, and Scott Mills, a Community Youth Officer for the Toronto Crime Stoppers program.
Ever wonder where or when the most crimes in your city, town or neighborhood take place? Or what types of crimes are most prevalent in your community? This information is undoubtedly of value for law enforcement agencies and the citizens they serve, and now can be accessed by anyone on the internet.
CrimeReports.com delivers the what, when and where of unlawful acts throughout communities in United States via its homepage mapping tool. Simply click on a state, the city you would like to search, and all of the crimes are right there for you to see! You also can also view the type of crime, for example assault, homicide, theft, etc…, and when the crime took place. CrimeReports.com has found a way to compile valuable information into a very easy-to-use database for citizens to view at their own convenience. Although, the website does not have sufficient evidence to prove that it helps decrease criminal activity, it definitely “helps raise awareness and create stronger community policing programs that improve the connection between law enforcement and the public.”
How it works is a police agency uploads crime data using CrimeReports technology, CrimeReports geocodes that data and sends out an e-mail for those who have subscribed, and then it immediately displays that crime information on its homepage mapping tool. The turn around time from the data upload to website delivery is about one hour - almost real-time.
This website is a great example of new web tools police are starting to use to combat crime and integrate their communities. I will be very interested to see some of the data that arises from this technology, for example, correlations between type and location of crimes, or the times of certain criminal acts. Enough data will also show if CrimeReports.com actually reduces criminal activity as its user base grows. We will have to wait and see, but if one thing is for sure - policing and web technologies have a great potential together, and we are only on the brink…