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?


Christa M. Miller said...

Two police departments that I know of actually are trying to get people to "friend" them on MySpace -- Miami-Dade and Fairfield CA.

I'll be detailing at least Fairfield's program in an article and also on Cops 2.0. They are working with the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics (SEARCH) on "My #1 Friend is a Cop", mainly to get underage users to friend the local PD so that predators will leave them alone (or at least parents will have an avenue to report predators messaging their kids, even if the activity isn't technically criminal). However, it has spread far beyond just this purpose to become a general reporting channel.

It's an interesting program, one I hope will catch on like wildfire even if PDs only do the ICAC aspect of it!

SgtNobleusa said...

This is absolutely a great idea! I wonder how I could get my local dept. turned on to this concept. Great article.