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Police Enlist Twitter for Crime Beat


Twitter may be the second most popular social networking site, behind Facebook — for now anyway. Twitter is a way for one person, company, or organization to broadcast messages to an audience of followers. You may have been brought to read this post through a tweet, or a Twitter message. It’s a very efficient way for one to many communications. Some people have thousands or even millions of followers on Twitter. Interested in who has the most followers? Twitaholic tracks the top 100 here. That popularity has caught the attention of the Seattle Police department.

The New York Times reports that the Seattle Police department has created a Tweets-by-Beat service , which creates several Twitter accounts based on individual neighborhoods in Seattle. They are creating a digital version of the police blotter, where neighborhood crime reports and suspicious activity get posted to the neighborhood Twitter account. Citizens can then follow their respective neighborhood Twitter crime beat, and be informed (or warned) about real and potential criminal activity. One drawback – criminals can access these same reports. Anyone can.

“More and more people want to know what’s going on on their piece of the rock,” said the chief of police, John Diaz in the New York Times report. “They want to specifically know what’s going on in the areas around their home, around their work, where their children might be going to school. This is just a different way we could put out as much information as possible as quickly as possible.”

The move demonstrates the evolving use of social media. There is no defined playbook for Twitter and other social media websites, so interesting uses like the Tweets-by-Beat will come and go over time. It sounds like a great use of Twitter. Time will tell if the people of Seattle agree. I can’t wait to read about the next innovative use of social media. Any ideas?


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