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Social-enabled policing is the 'next wave'

Sathya Mithra Ashok | Jan. 24, 2014
Digging into his experience with police work and understanding of trends on a global scale, Hong-Eng Koh, senior director and global lead of justice and public safety within Oracle's division focusing on the public sector, makes the case for social-enabled policing (SEP).

The next wave of policing is SEP. That is not just about technology or networking. For me it is a bit like going back to community policing, in the age of social networking.

The key difference lies in the behaviour of the police department. Going back to the England riots of 2011. By then most police departments in the country, including the London Metropolitan Police force, had a presence on social media. But what were they tweeting? Curfew on, stay home, don't do this, don't do that. Such authoritative language does not go with the nature of the age of social networking.

Social networking is not just a collaboration and communication platform. It is a lot of trust and behaviour. Some of the other smaller police departments in the country were more down to earth, very cordial with the society and that resulted in better outcomes.

Let us take the Boston marathon bombings. Many people claimed in the press that CCTV helped to identify the two brothers. It is not that simple.

I met the former Boston commissioner of police. He retired recently. He met me probably less than a year before the actual Boston marathon attack. He was interested in social media. He wanted to engage the community and look at different tools.

Before the attack, the Boston PD had already spent a whole lot of time building trust with the community. When the bombing happened, the Boston PD asked for help on their Twitter feed, in a very cordial fashion.

They asked for whatever videos and photos that were taken at the marathon. Consequently many people responded with videos and photos. Many photos that you see in the press and Internet of the two brothers were not from the public CCTV. They were from the citizens.

My point is that if you didn't build this good will before an incident, do you think people would of helped you? It is about behaviour, not about technology. Sincere, open, collaborative, interested, authentic, likeable behaviour should be practised, so more people will come forward to share information.

Engagement and trust are very important. At the same time, it is important to do the monitoring as well. It is not just one way. You are monitoring and you are also responding.

In SEP, the PD can tap into technologies, but it is ultimately about your behaviour, and about listening to what's happening out there. If people witness a bomb explosion or bank robbery, chances are they are not going to call your emergency line. Chances are they are going to take a photograph and tweet about it. This is why listening is important.


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