Social Media in Action – In Your Neighbourhood?

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Lately I’ve been noticing the blurring of lines between
journalist and citizen (see earlier blog today) – so I was intrigued by this article in the Christian Science Monitor about Neighbourhood patrols. “As property crimes increase, more neighbors are on patrol” http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0127/p01s02-usgn.html

Just as towns and cities are cutting budgets for their neighbourhood patrols, and foreclosures are leaving more vacant homes, the economic crisis has brought in a new wave of crime. In response, citizens are forming social networks – connected by email and twitter to organize schedules and routes for neighbourhood patrols.

” So far, this is a largely unarmed conflict defined by nighttime jogger patrols with flashing headlamps, unofficial block patrols with cop-like “beats,” and neighborhood all-Twitter alarms – short text messages dubbed “BOLO” or “be on the lookout” when something potentially dangerous or illegal happens…..And though Twitter alarms and other tech-savvy warning systems can sometimes ratchet up the perception of crime rates, they’re also being used effectively: An Atlanta break-in captured by home cameras and then put up on YouTube helped police catch several suspects last month…..In Cudahy, it took Litkowiec and his band of civilian crime fighters a mere three weeks to effectively deter the garage robbers in the Rosewood neighborhood.

“We basically figured we should be able to outsmart some common thieves” said Litkowiec.”

When the going gets tough, the tough get tech savvy.

The technology is there – this crisis is empowering people to use existing technology in new and powerful ways to achieve results across traditional boundaries.

There is no doubt that the Internet and cell phone technologies are increasingly blurring the lines drawn on the sand between the customer and the service provider.

In the examples above, social networking is coordinating citizens to supplement and complement the government police and justice departments in providing citizen services.

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