Surfing the beat

two-men.gifI came across this post from David Cohn about crowdsourcing beat journalism. Local journalist of course normally have their network within the area they publish about. But how much more interesting might this become if you know how to make this network much more involved in the news and each other.
The same, in a way, counts for policemen. Especially community policeman need to have a strong social network in order to receive the subtle but important information on what is really going on in their district. But for quite some years it can be seen that policemen tend to have less social ties to the community they are serving. Most policemen do not live in the city they are working, are not member of the local football club and do not attend the local bar. Also the local policeman spends a lot of his time at the office.
Because of this we need to find new ways to connect the policeman to his local community.  Social software has a great potential to deliver by connecting the policeman to a broad network of citizens that do have a intricate understanding of what is happening and have a strong interest in helping the police.
One of the ideas might be to let the local policeman write a blog. In this blog he can write about the major (public) issues he encounters and citizens can react by supplying extra information or commenting on it. This would be a way to actively help the local cop with information based on the priorities he states. You know the information matters and it gives a low threshold to supply it. In a way this looks a bit like a local cop in small town. Here the distance from the cop and the social community is small. In big cities this distance has grown but I think social software will lead to new strategies to cross that distance.
Connected cops …

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