Monday, January 31, 2011

:) Tweet Police

"Tweet O Tweet" = "S O S" ? : Toronto Police twitter communications.

Twitter is a fun tool and I do say tool. It is a free access global network to crazy cloud computing! Harold Coxeter, the Toronto math wizard in geometry, led to our current innovations in complex information analysis. Thanks Harold!

In the “times of information”, seems like Twitter is amazing at sending messages and getting fast responses and multiple responses. I have touched upon these items in previous blogs: finding new information or getting questions answered or just sending a message to a twitter contact. Turning on twitter location and tweeting can provide your location and name. This is an inherent feature and something that takes time to communicate, traditionally.

Using ones' 140 characters seems a challenge. It is. How much information can I fit in to this tiny “real-time space”? When we think of the evolution of communications, we see that the simple SOS message was enough to send a message: help. Now we have Twitter: can a message expand an organizations accessibility? Can a Twitter message ever be an official communication?

Now we have this simple tool. Wait, it is complex, depending on how the tweet is built.

I like to blog about new cool connections, I make on Twitter, and here is my next.

I was looking at the #volunteer hashtag on twitter ( tweets close to me ) and noticed a tweet from the Toronto Police. They were saying thanks to volunteers that helped at a local function. I think they even set a record! I retweeted!

Toronto Police said thanks! That is proper Twitter protocol, well done #TPT ( Toronto Police Twitter ).

I looked at their tweets and they have some really informative messages. Some even in my neighbourhood. Cool. Later, I noticed the TPT using identifiers “^xx” in their tweets. I suggested they use a hashtag, so, that above identifier code would become #xx or #XX.

The capitalization means confirmed versus lowercase which is unconfirmed. Known to be factual versus an opinion.

By building a simple set of hashtags, the complexity of the message increases. Looking at the range of TPT tweets, I thought of what messages they may need to send to a community: an accident, weather emergency, tornado touchdown location. I also though of the community and which messages they could send to the police. Now the police have increased their scope using real time!

Look out! #ca ( citizens arrest ) took on a new team member? Twitter? What about a distress call from twitter? Could this free stuff have real value? Yes, I think a simple system could be launched and measured. Demonstrate a few simple ideas and track the results?

One thing is for certain, Twitter should would be great in some situations. Live information.

Anyways, back to the TPT codes, what about “Jane Public” sending a quick tweet to the Toronto Police Twitter? An easy example: tornado it is.

If the GTA has a local tornado warning, residents could use this to alert an actual touchdown. Calling 911 might take longer than sending this message ( excuse the hashtags, I kept these ideas simple )

@TPT_Alert #weather #tornado #yes : #minor #damage
@TPT_Alert #road #hazard #ice
@TPT_Alert #TPT #help #emergency

What about @TorontoPolice ? What could they send?

#TPT #WEATHER #TORNADO #EMERGENCY @ 16:45 @ HIGH PARK If you see any downed powerlines tweet us! #thanks #TPS #DD #SGT #Chuckles

You can imagine the rest. But, do take notice in the differences in capitalization.

Public abuse of this system would not be tolerated. Think of it like a community watch for twitter.

The Toronto Police can send “their content” tweets ( say on @TorontoPolice account ), but also issue @TPT “content” ( say on @TPT account ). Public broadcasts to GTA could use both Twitter accounts. The "@TPT" is for the public alert system.

Thinking about how the police communicate and what they can communicate public messages could even contain encrypted key words. A plain clothes officer could be gathering evidence and making it look like they are tweeting a friend. Just no G-20 stuff, thanks.

I think that with a smart strategy, any police force can better serve with this free tool! Cool!


P.S. - Will the @TorontoPolice & @lawscomm soon learn the power of my twitter communications and unfollow me? If they filter content, probably not.

P.S.S. - #DGD #opinion : #climatechange #SCIENCE is #important

All information and concepts on my blog is property of me, Graham Chivers.

Retweeting is highly recommended!

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