To head off unruly crowd sentiment over social media and to detect advance possible mass gatherings before it descends on the city soil, Mumbai Police have set up a social media monitoring facility [Indian Express report here]. The first of its kind in India from a law enforcement unit, The Social Media Lab will monitor Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other prominent social media platforms to measure changes in mass moods and track matters concerning public law and order. 20 specially trained police officers will keep a vigil on widely discussed and trending topics and try to tie social media and criminality together.
Worldwide, law and enforcement authorities are waking up to the anti-social surprises social media have been unveiling in recent times. Last year, during the London Olympics, Scotland and Wales police trailed software to predict where and when crime and social disorder may take place, reported The Herald. In August, 2011, the NY Daily News reported that the NYPD have started to mine social media for information about troublesome house parties, gang showdowns, and other potential mayhem.
Recently, a blog post on the official FBI blog urged local police to monitor social media for leads on criminal activity. The writer, who is a retired major with the Montgomery, Alabama Police Department, and now the assistant chief agent at the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, has asked the local law enforcement officers to use the internet as a predictive tool for everything from apprehending fugitives, singling out associate suspects, linking individuals to street gangs, and providing evidence of criminal activity.
For a Better Tomorrow
By monitoring social media and analytics, a city, state, or government can make more informed decisions. Some decisions can be predicative; some could be based upon analyzing public sentiment during, post, or pre-event. With the right tools and resources, sudden events like earthquakes, terrorist attacks, tornadoes, flooding, wildfire, shootings or bombings can be managed with proper responsive actions.
Cost Savings and Better Resource Deployment
A comprehensive monitoring campaign can provide deep insights about where the crowd is located, their movement, communication content, influencers, whereabouts, etc., without deploying manpower or logistics. A location-centric trend can help mobilize resources as per requirement.
Engage: Digital and Social Media Engagement for the Police Service from National Policing Improvement Agency, UK: This document aims to help police officers and staff to engage with their communities through the use of technology. It has been written with a purpose to make them aware of the new engagement technologies that exist in digital era with case studies from the United Kingdom forces. For all curious minds who live and breathe social media, it’s a must read guide (and a best practice example) to know how law and enforcement is looking at social media to form a barrier between criminals and society.
Using Social Media to Prevent Gang Violence and Engage Youth from Northeastern University: The technological boom during this past generation has completely changed the way youths consume information. This report cites a Nielsen study finding which says that 57% of young people rely on social networks as a key source of information and advice. This is an insightful report from Northeastern University on how social media monitoring services can serve as a catalyst for gang and youth violence prevention strategies.