Australian Police have never really seemed to me to be the most hi-tech force in the world but that’s starting to change. The New South Wales (NSW) state Police Force are leading the charge with a YouTube channel and Twitter presence in an attempt to embrace social media as part of their policing strategy.
The Police Force is looking for help to nab crims by twitter-linking to CCTV videos and images of “people of interest” in various cases. The YouTube Channel also has footage of Police raids and the Twitter account is being used for things like public service announcements.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that for some components of policing, particularly related to identifying people of interest, the social web has massive potential. It doesn’t even have to be a manual process, I mean how long before the Police try to friend everyone on FaceBook then use facial recognition technology to ID people through their accounts?
It should also be said that not only is the whole thing a step in the right direction for policing it’s incredibly addictive, too. Every time I see a tweet about a police suspect in my activity stream I can’t wait to jump on and see if I know them. The videos are also fun to watch. It’s kind of bland TV, rather than highly edited COPS-style programming, but for some reason the lack of hype in the videos make them even more watchable.
NSW isn’t the only Police Force that has embraced social media and it certainly won’t be the last. For now, though, it’s the best example I’ve seen.