Saturday, August 08, 2009

Experienced Criminal Justice Professor looking for trend-setting police departments in need of free social media assistance

(not for me -- for my students)

Despite the economic challenges we are facing (or perhaps because of them), the growth of social media use by businesses and organizations continues. Many a company executive is being educated on why they need to blog, what good having a Facebook or LinkedIn account is, and what Tweeting (not Twittering) is.

The problem is, even if they do get it, most don't have the time.

If the marketing or public relations folks are able to convince the executive that having a social media strategy is important, there are two main options -- pay for it or get it for nothing.

Option 1 (paying) will likely start with adding responsibilities to someone who is already on the payroll. In a different economy, this position might be more likely to go to someone with training, but we have to make the ends meet, don't we?

Option 2 would entail finding an intern and trusting them with the reputation of the company. Not many executives are likely to be excited about this option -- even if the intern is in their bloodline.

In most cases, you get what you pay for, or at least you won't get more than what you pay for. Everyone on Facebook or Twitter is not an expert, and everyone who uses these tools successfully for their personal benefit is not necessarily qualified to do so for their company.

So what about the police? We've advocated the use of social media by police organizations to interact with the public before, and there have been some great examples of forward-thinking departments implementing strategies that admittedly don't clearly impact the community reputation of the department.

But there may be a solution.

I have, in any given month, a couple of hundred students in need of exposure to the workforce in the outside world in the profession they are interested in. Many of these are interested in criminal justice, yet almost all have a hard time getting internships. I think most criminal justice departments encounter the same problems.

So I am proposing that each criminal justice department contact each police department within a 500 mile radius of the university. I would suggest a 50 mile radius, but that would not adequately demonstrate the reach of the Internet, now would it?

Offer the police departments a chance to beta-test your 10 hand-picked social media police intern strategists. Set up a Facebook (or Ning) group and set strict guidelines for communication policy, to include a 2 month probationary period where posts have to be screened by a criminal justice professor on the collaboration site prior to presenting them to a department representative for approval. Once the probationary period is completed, the intern will still need to get department approval, but only needs to post a snapshot after the fact, along with a short summary of the logic and rationale if outside the established guidelines.

This process will serve as a test bed for more active departments in the social media space, and allow departments to see the benefits of interaction in the social space with minimal investment.

The primary responsibility of the Social Media Police Intern will be to promote the police department using a variety of social media such as Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace (if they are still around), Blogs, Yahoo!Groups, and related spaces as agreed by the faculty mentor and department representative.

The Intern will be responsible for maintaining the Twitter account with posts reflecting arrest trends, wanted persons, Amber Alerts, and other police information needing immediate public assistance. Approvals for following the department will be made according to pre-established guidelines and approved by the department representative.

The intern should maintain the department's Facebook Fan page, to include promoting events and monitoring communications, and informing the department representative of any problems exposed in the social media domain so the department can determine how to respond appropriately.

Monitoring of police-related communications (comments regarding the department or criminal activity in the jurisdiction) may also be included.

Intern Qualifications: The candidate should be someone with a mix of:

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Able to work alone, while operating as an integral team member
  • Experience using social media in a non-business, personal setting
Interns are expected to work a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 20 hours each week. The schedule will remain flexible and can be adjusted based on the intern’s availability. These internships should be offered for a term of approximately 4 Months.

For more posts addressing the need for social media strategies for police departments, click here.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Secure Social Networking -- sounds a little like a hurdle that many won't want to jump -- Nixle?

I guess we'll have to see.

I've posted before about the use of social networking site by government agencies -- especially the police. There's another entry (besides Facebook and Twitter) that appears to be set on making this a secure reality.

Nixle is a free service that allows you to receive trusted, up-to-the-minute, neighborhood information for where you live, work, visit – or for where your family and friends are located throughout the country.

Hmm, so trusted means secure? I guess we'll see how that goes over.

Police can send you information about car accidents or crime that's going on in your neighborhood—either by email, text messages to your cell phone, or both.

For now, I must admit there seems to be a decent movement underway. Apparently, more than 1,000 agencies have joined Nixle so far, and over 40,000 people have signed up. That's not a real good show of interest. I'm concerned especially since it requires both a learning curve for using the site (both the department representatives and the citizens) and a marketing push to get them to the site.

They do have a pretty impressive list of partners.

What do you think?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Texting 911 -- imagine the reply "you texted to 911, if this is not an emergency . . .

please text to the local police text number -- 555-0911 -- or post your non-emergency to our Facebook or MySpace wall or send us a message on Twitter to @yourpolicedepartment."

We noted in Can we text to 911, too? there aren't too many police departments on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter yet (though there has been some improvement), but . . . I can text the local PD to report a crime via text. We couldn't . . . text to 911 and have Google Latitude (My Location) share your current location with the police (if we choose).

Well now it's possible! (at least texting to 911, in Des Moines)

Black Hawk's dispatch center is believed to be the first in the nation capable of communicating with 911 "callers" via standard text-messaging, a big breakthrough as the country's emergency responders race to keep up with the rapid evolution of human communication.

In the understatement of the year, Barbara Vos, the state's 911 program manager, said:

"A lot of people want to text 911 - we know that"

I just wonder why this wasn't considered early on . . . must not have involved a government bureaucrat -- they know everything about business!

What do you think?

Monday, June 01, 2009

I expect that the police departments across our nation will need to consider funding alternatives soon

. . . so imagine the local government has reached the end of their economic rope and can no longer find adequate funding for the police department.

Dispatcher: "911 emergency, what's your emergency?"
Caller: "Someone stole my television."
Dispatcher: "No problem, ma'am, we'll have someone stop by between 8-12 this morning, or would 1-5 this afternoon be better?"
Caller: "8-12 is good, what will this cost me?"
Dispatcher: "That depends, ma'am. If all we do is take a report for your insurance company, we can do that for a flat rate of $50. If you want us to investigate the crime then it would cost you the initial $50 plus $50 an hour. We usually put about 6 hours into an investigation."
Caller: "Oh, I thought my tax dollars took care of that. What happens if I choose the flat rate and then you identify the person who stole my television while investigating another crime?"
Dispatcher: "Your tax dollars haven't covered the law enforcement we provide for almost 10 years, ma'am. If we identify the thief while conducting another investigation, you would be responsible for a cost-sharing with the other victim from the point where we identify your property. We would, of course, call you to notify you should that occur. We can do split billing, for an additional $25 each, or you can agree on the amount and get one bill."
Caller: "Oh, well thank you."
Dispatcher: "Did you want us to send someone out?"
Caller: "Uh, no. The television only cost $400 and was over 5 years old anyway, and I've been eying a new flat screen."
Dispatcher: "OK, well tell the store clerk that your television was stolen -- many stores will give you a 10% discount if you file a report."
Caller: "But I'm not."
Dispatcher: "Your loss, ma'am."
Caller: OK, thanks."

What do you think?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Here's a real quick look at what's going on with this blog.

according to a scan by -- check it out yourself!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do you agree that Twitter is the telegraph of the 21st Century?

For those of us who have been using Twitter for some time now (whatever that means, since it's only a few years old), we generally take the limitations for granted. It's no big deal that there's a limit on characters for posts (though shouldn't the limit be the same as for text messages, since that's how many of us get our Tweets?). We develop a routine of acknowledging or ignoring those who follow us, sometimes following them back, and we all go through the new period, where we make a determination regarding the level of Twitter we are able to squeeze into our lives (and still have a life).

But the biggest adjustment for me has been the new language. Why is it that we don't hesitate to tailor our messages to the delivery method? Are we so accustomed to flexibility that we will alter our mode of communication even when there is not a clear reason why?

I think so, and we can blame it on the telegraph.

Do you remember those? The remnants are still around - just go to your local grocery store and look for the yellow Western Union sign. That company (that now owns the lion's share of bankless cash transfers) used to be where we went to get a message across the state, across the country, and even around the world.

If you have always wanted to write a how-to manual for Twitterspeak, you might be able to use this booklet as a template. The Telegraph Office published "HOW TO WRITE TELEGRAMS PROPERLY" A Small Booklet by Nelson E. Ross, in 1928.

So did anyone talk that way? No, and we don't (yet) talk like we Twitter. I will admit that I use some of the generally accepted text abbreviations in my presentations (especially ROTFL) but I've yet to smile and wink with my face in a horizontal position, and neither of these are unique to Twitter.

So, when do we start talking In Twitterspeak?

What do you think?

(see the Daily Telegraph on Twitter)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

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What do you think?

Monday, March 30, 2009

How new is new when it comes to media?

What does the term "new media" mean to you, and when is it no longer "new?"

I asked this question of my network on LinkedIn and Facebook, and got a variety of responses including:

  • blogs, podcasts, wiki, widgets
  • any new gadget or gizmo that flashes and has a touch-screen . . . a new form of communication that is so different and so new that it has never even been thought of (not invented, but even thought of).
  • all media forms worth discussing
  • an arch way to suggest a change
  • blogging, taggin, twittering, linking, sharing . . . all the practices that are supported by social software
  • (anything that) wouldn't be new when newer or more efficient ways are made way which foresees the immediate future of the current new media to be obsolete ..
  • (something) not widely used . . . and it would be come no longer new once it's reached a relative saturation of use.
  • (media that) until a newer or different medium replaces it in the social eye.
What do you think?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can we text to 911, too?

Well, no, but we can text to TIP-411 (847411)! We'll have to wait for NG911 . . . read on . . .

As we observed in It's nice to see it coming together, a little over a year ago we made suggestions for public service social networking in "The Death of Social Networking as we know it . . . Social Network Commerce." The focus was on the police department, and the situation was:

. . . you realize that your yard art has been damaged, your mailbox has been smashed, or your neighbor's car has been vandalized. Your local police department recently installed a social network precinct, and you already added them as a "preferred location." This virtual precinct takes reports around the clock, using either text or voice input. Follow up consists of a text confirmation or a phone call, and you can check the status of your report at any time.

Upon submission of your report, you check the block that allows your neighbors to see the type of report and a general description of what you reported. You limit their personal information visibility to the street you live on, not wanting to get a bunch of visits or calls from any nosey neighbors. You also check the block that provides you with updates. In a few moments, everyone in your neighborhood (that opted in) has received a text message or recorded voice message) with a brief summary, including the time frame you reported.

Within a couple of hours, you receive a text message that another resident on your street just reported something similar (they checked their stuff after getting the message), and you choose to allow them to communicate with you in a protected area -- accessible to you and your neighbor and the police only. You chat with your neighbor and realize that you saw the same car in your neighborhood, or that both of your teenage daughters knew the same "troublemaker," or . . . you get the point.
Well, there aren't too many police departments on Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter yet (though there has been some improvement), but . . . you (at least I) can text the local PD to report a crime via text!
You can now report a crime via text in Franklin. Send your tip to TIP-411 (847411). In your message page, type 615 FPD, and then write your message.
It's a shame as plugged in as I am that I first heard about this on NewsChannel5 but I guess old media is how people find out about new media, so I'll take what I can get.

The department is the first law enforcement agency in the state to be able to handle anonymous text messaging tips from the public. Anyone in the community will be able to text tips. According to WSMVvideo link here), A third-party company called Citizen Observer removes the phone number, replaces it with an ID number and sends it on to police, making it anonymous.

Perhaps now we can get to the point where we are able to get crime reports like on the Digital Public Square in D.C.!

In our recent book, The Emergence of the Relationship Economy, I suggested:

We should consider adding our local police officer or precinct to our contacts or friends list. These individuals and organizations exist already in our community network, and possibly our social network of friends. Imagine community policing enhanced by a display of trusted connections, personal photos, or random thoughts.
* * *
If law enforcement took advantage of existing technology, we envision the process of a phone call to the police station being replaced by a posting on the virtual wall of the police station’s Web site.

In Police 2.0 - To Protect and to Twitter! I envisioned a new line on the officers' business cards, telephone hold messages, and of course on the back of the police cars . . . To Protect and to Twitter!

I guess we'll be doing it old-school with the text messages for now . . . there's got to be a way to text to 911 and have Google Latitude (My Location) share your current location with the police (if we choose). It makes sense to provide the police with information (using 411 in the text address), but if we want to send a report, complaint, or our smart house wants to report suspicious activity . . . I cannot wait for the next-generation 911 (NG 911) call centers!

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's nice to see it coming together -- why isn't this happening everywhere?

A little over a year ago in a post titled "The Death of Social Networking as we know it . . . Social Network Commerce" we suggested that social networking should be something more than sharing information, displaying our music and video preferences, making introductions, playing games, and poking each other. In that post, we made suggestions for Government and Private organizations to engage their communities in the social space.

And now it's here. Well, at least it is here where I live . . . is it here where you live?

Downtown Franklin is on Facebook, and they are hosting and inviting residents to a variety of events happening in (of all places) Downtown Franklin!

It's not the Digital Public Square in Washington D.C. that helped the recently appointed presidential technology adviser get a new gig, but I'm OK with that. Now, I think we'll see more of what Tim Tracey offers at YouGottaCall - a connection of local, trusted service providers with new customers using their network of customers, friends and neighbors (see comments on this post).

I think there's an opportunity for Customer Powered Service, as noted previously - a return to the mindset of the marketplace. Customer Powered Service is the empowering of the customer, where companies are successful only if they provide customers with what they need (and are asking for). When we speak of Customer Powered Service, it's not just about the customer -- it's also about the service!

What do you think?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Like herding cats -- what was on your Christmas List?

I've come to the realization that running multiple blogs in an attempt to compartmentalize my thoughts is akin to herding cats.

Of course it was a good idea, but in order to do such a thing effectively, at some point the brakes have to go on and the shift into organization must be intentional. That said, I have posted recently on the educational retrofitting blog in response to a post by Jason Alba (and elsewhere on the academic side of my life).

Christmas time (sorry, we don't call it the Holiday Season here in the South -- that will happen long after the second amendment gets changed :-) was good, and I just learned that it was good for publication as well. Our book The Emergence of The Relationship Economy (more here & here) apparently sold well in December. I must say I wonder whether it was more for enlightenment or necessity.

It took most of 2008 for much of what we were suggesting to catch on and be (slightly more) mainstream, so that could have been part of it. The other possibility is that we as a society, especially after the tactics used in the election, are realizing that social media doesn't just have a place in the world, it is a huge opportunity for many people who are stuck in the void between having time to reach out to established friends and making new ones and the need to maintain a massive productivity level.

Not being able to determine which is more important, I'd like to get your opinion(s).

Is social media "catching on" in your life and the lives of those around you? Do you still get that look from people when you mention Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and the like?

What do you think?