How social media is being used in policing – examining the opportunities, success stories, key challenges and future potential.Our recent Europe and Africa Public Safety Research Report highlighted the transformative role being played by social media in policing today:As a social media evangelist, I find these statistics encouraging. But how far have we really come? Almost every month there seems to be a new social network born. In this blog post, I'll be focusing primarily on Twitter and Facebook, although many of the points raised will apply to other social networks such as LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, YouTube etc. I'll share some examples, mainly from the UK and USA but we do know from our survey that social media is growing in importance across the entire region! Another caveat I’d like to add is the acknowledgement that there’s restrictions on the use of social media by Police in some countries.The journey so far From nervous beginnings in 2008, there’s now over 2,395 UK Police Twitter accounts – with a combined following of over 1.5 million.1 These are a combination of official police force accounts, and those from officers who tweet individually (this raises the question about governance and management – a topic covered later in this post). Since 2011 there’s even been annual Police Twitter Awards. Now with 13 different categories, the awards include categories for best corporate account, best tweeting PCSO, best police informative, best sergeant, and even best police dog account!Sergeant Harry Tangye of Devon and Cornwall Police, was named 2015 best Tweeting sergeant and explains why he believes social media is increasingly important “when you walk down the street, you speak to maybe three or four people. With social media, you can immediately talk to thousands”.2Thanks for the 3900 follows last from March 15 since changing to a Force Twitter Account. Amazingly rewarding. Met some lovely people too.Ta— Sgt Harry Tangye (@DC_ARVSgt) January 1, 2016With nearly half of the UK adult population having a current social networking profile, 89 per cent of those adults regularly logging onto Facebook, and 38 per cent logging onto Twitter at least once a month – social media clearly represents a major shift in the way the public are sharing and using information.3Social media also provides police with a real opportunity to build stronger relationships with their communities based on transparent information sharing, two-way dialogue, and gathering intelligence to help fight crime. Arguably, social media has become one of the most important tools for engaging with ‘hard to reach’ groups – such as those who traditionally wouldn’t attend public meetings, were disinterested, or even antagonistic.4 But of course, using social media to help build these relationships is not without its challenges. “An online presence in a modern world is as important as traditional policing methods such as walking the beat” - Nick Keane, Digital Engagement Adviser, College of Policing5How are Police currently using social media? The use of social media in policing can be divided into three main areas:1. Providing information – enabling specifically targeted information to be shared quickly, easily and cost-effectively. This could be safety advice, warnings of criminal activity, or real-time updates during critical incidents. Arguably, the most high profile example of this occurred during the Boston marathon bombings in 2013. The police department used social media to keep the public informed in real-time. In fact, the first official announcement that the suspect had been captured came from this Tweet:CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) 20 April 20132. Community engagement – providing the police with a way of connecting and building relationships with local communities and members of the public. Two-way dialogue is absolutely essential in social media. Active engagement is a fundamental part of policing. It’s a careful balance when social media activity is coming from individuals’ accounts (rather than a “controlled” central police force account). But when the balance is right, the impact can be spectacular. Officer Tommy Norman from North Little Rock Police Department has become a social media superstar with his tireless commitment to building relationships in local communities. With over 1.2 million followers on Instagram, Tommy’s social media activities are an inspiration:3. Intelligence and investigation – allowing the police to listen to what their communities are saying and to build evidence for investigations by monitoring social media. Whether it’s appealing for information during a search, investigating after a crime has taken place, or providing intelligence to inform deployment decisions – social media has an important part to play in picking up leads and preparing for potential incidents. A heart-warming example of this is when Barnet Police used Twitter to reunite Ted the spaniel with his owner after he was stolen. Thanks to the plea for help being retweeted a staggering 53,800 times – Ted became headline news!6What are the key challenges of social media in policing? There’s 6 main challenges when considering the use of social media in policing:Getting the tone right – when police forces post information on social media it needs to be relevant and useful. Generally, a more formal approach is considered best when social activity is from a police force’s central account. Whereas, social posts from individual police officers’ accounts should adopt a more informal tone. But it’s a careful balance, and a topic that’s covered in depth in the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers “Guidelines on the safe use of the internet and social media by police officers and police staff”Engagement, not just giving information – providing information is of course important, but the true art of social media is the balance with engagement. To be truly effective, it needs to be a two-way conversation to build an online presence that’s transparent and people feel like they can trust.Publicising Police social media presence – effectively disseminating information and building a deep relationship with the community requires a large, diverse and loyal following. Achieving this can be tough, but it’s vital for success. Running posts that tag social media influencers and strategically using relevant hashtags should be de facto.Identifying useful information – the velocity, variety, and volume of data associated with social media posts is growing exponentially. But gathering, processing, and extracting the important intelligence is a key challenge. Many police forces are playing catch up. Of course there are technologies available specifically for this but we’ll discuss those in a future blog. Managing police use of social media – police officers and staff of all ranks and levels of experience are able to use social media. This presents a considerable management challenge. While the use of social media in policing should be encouraged, it’s vital that there’s training, procedures, monitoring and guidance in place. While there will inevitably be subtle differences between forces, an excellent foundational resource for this is the Association of Chief Police Officers “Guidelines on the safe use of the internet and social media by police officers and police staff”.Resources – social media in its “basic” guise isn’t particularly resource-intensive and is generally being absorbed into the duties of serving officers and communication departments. But it’s when social media becomes operational that it requires investment – not only in terms of technology, training, and skills, but also in terms of culture. However, it’s only when social media is used operationally that its strategic value can be fully realised.UK Police Foundation Briefing “Police use of social media” - I thoroughly recommend reading the Police Foundation Briefing “Police use of social media”. The document digs even deeper into these important topics with in-depth research. You’ll also learn from some excellent real-world examples of successful social media, and examine situations when social media had a negative impact on policing. There’s also a list of resources below that I hope you’ll find useful. Jules Foster is Co-lead of the Social Media Center of Excellence at Motorola Solutions.Connect with Jules on LinkedIn.Follow @MotsolsEMEA on Twitter.Useful Resources for Social Media in PolicingFollow Motorola Solutions EMEA on TwitterTwitter list "UK Cops who Tweet"The Police FoundationThe Briefing – Police use of Social MediaPolice Twitter Awards 2015 WinnersPolice Twitter AwardsPolice Awards Twitter ProfileCollege of Policing “Use of social media to monitor large scale events”Association of Chief Police Officers “Guidelines on the safe use of the internet and social media by police officers and police staff”College of Policing “Engagement and communication”Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (2012) “Digital democracy: Building new relationships with the public – an APCC guide” References1Nick Keane “UK Cops who Tweet” Twitter list2The Telegraph, 05 Jan 2016 “Social media is the ‘new neighbourhood policing’ says prize winning tweeting officer” (view article)3eMarketer, 25 Feb 2016 “More than half of UK population will log on to Facebook this year” (view article)4Knibbs, K, Digital Trends, 13 July 2013 “In the online hunt for criminals, social media is the ultimate snitch” (view article)5Quote from the Police Foundation “police use of social media”6Mail Online, 18 December 2012 “Pensioner reunited with stolen spaniel Ted after Twitter message by police was retweeted 53,800 times by dog lovers” (view article)
In 1989, ETSI Project TETRA was established. The aim of this technical committee was to deliver a set of open standards for a digital land mobile radio communications system. Motorola Solutions was a key contributor to the Project and built DimetraTM, a mission-critical land mobile radio (LMR) platform, to comply with the TETRA standard. Key to the success of TETRA has been its user-driven approach and the standard continues to evolve in accordance with user needs and priorities. In this blog series, we look at the past, present and future of mission-critical LMR systems and answer the most pressing questions being asked by radio users today.
You have spent a lot of time and resources to get your Dimetra system to where it is today. Your network is operating well, and your end users are happy with the performance and features of the radios. Why would you want to upgrade your system if everything seems to be working just fine?
Dimetra systems are modern IP based computer networks with similar maintenance requirements of most IT systems. CIOs and IT Directors around the world are accustomed to the pace of change for hardware, software, routers, gateways and servers, and have come to expect the need for a robust lifecycle plan to stay current and operating at peak efficiency. It is no different with a Dimetra system, for critically important reasons:
Improve Performance and Stability
In addition to hardware, your Dimetra system includes multiple software components, such as operating systems, drivers and interfaces, that are provided by different developers. Over time, developers release software patches to improve performance and stability. Upgrading to the latest Dimetra system software release gives you the benefits of the latest performance improvements, as well as compatibility and support that comes standard with the software of these vendors.
Access New Features and Capabilities
As networks have grown in size, complexity and cost, the days of installing a system, using it until it is obsolete, and then buying a replacement are past. The expectations of today’s radio user is rapidly changing, and Motorola Solutions continues to develop new features and solutions to respond to this demand. Your radio system needs to evolve to be ready to accept these enhancements. Fortunately, Dimetra systems are built on a modern IP platform with many of the newest capabilities enabled by easy-to-install software licenses. Keeping your system upgraded with the latest software gives you access to the broadest range of features and capabilities that can meet the demands of your users.
Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks
Cybercrime continues to rise and attackers are constantly evolving their methods. LMR networks are not immune to viruses nor malicious attacks. A strong security posture is required to protect your Dimetra system or you risk communication disruption or privacy invasions that can impact CAD, records, and any interconnected inter-agency radio systems that is configured for interoperability. LMR systems are no longer “closed networks” and every connection is a possible point of intrusion. Running the latest software versions with the latest commercial antivirus definitions and security patches is vital to protect against external attack. And if you haven’t conducted a policy update for a while, consider scheduling a cybersecurity professional risk assessment to further ascertain areas that require attention within your operations.
Control Total Cost of Ownership
By upgrading your Dimetra system to the latest system software release you can sign up for a sustainment program from Motorola Solutions which allows you to plan and control your spending and performance with a predictable budget. Such a program would allow you to get the most value from your network through regular technology updates, with no surprise support gaps or unplanned costs. Contact your Motorola Solutions representative for further information about our services.
Learn more about the importance of maintaining an updated network. Visit www.motorolasolutions.com/services for more information on how our services can help you or learn more about System Upgrades for Dimetra.
Robert D. Buethe is MSSSI Vice President Global Managed and Support Services
Follow @MotSolsEMEA on Twitter.