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Tweet3PO's creators say the future of crime fighting isn't neighborhood watch - it's social media

Photo: Christopher Balogh, License: N/A

Christopher Balogh

“Tweet3PO isn't intended to create vigilante mobs, nor have we seen any evidence of such,” Diggz says. “We're simply reminding neighbors that we live in a community, and the police help the community prevent crime.”

Grobleski has a wider perspective on this issue. He points out that access to police dispatch information has been available via private police scanners for nearly 50 years.

“This data has been publicly available for decades without significant negative impact,” Grobleski says. “The city of Orlando has made this data available in near real-time for over five years on their website. We are merely disseminating it in a more effective, relevant way.”

Grobleski and Diggz have bigger plans for Tweet3PO and other projects like it. They want to see the technology used to send all sorts of informational alerts to citizens, and not just in Orlando.

“We're talking to folks in emergency management and government IT departments, literally all over the world, about adding Tweet3PO services in their regions,” Diggz says. “I'd like to see this just be a normal part of how governments engage with the citizens they represent.”

Diggz and Grobleski have been in contact with Emergency Management Operations in King County, Wash. They are using the Seattle Open Government Data Feed to tweet hyperlocal alerts for the greater Seattle area. It's a volunteer effort, they say, and the reason they picked Seattle to do it is simply because so much information is available via the web.

“They run 12 separate e911 centers [including the city of Seattle], and we are working on assisting them to push their police, fire and EMS dispatch to the Seattle Open Government Data Initiative,” Grobleski says. “We can push out these incidents in real time to neighborhood-based official police-owned Twitter accounts.”

Grobleski says Tweet3PO can be used to pass along all sorts of municipal alerts to citizens: “Anything from traffic and road closures, amber and silver alerts to the transportation system, where your bus could send out alerts via Twitter,” he says.

Locally, they're working on expanding their Tweet3PO services into Orange County as well.

According to Capt. Angelo Nieves of the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the Orange County Sheriff's Office radio calls for service web page went live on May 8, 2012. The department puts out calls for service through the feed, but Nieves says his department does redact some sensitive calls and information – particularly ones related to sexual crimes and child abuse.

“We wanted to ensure that the community that is interested in doing so can review our activity, but again I stress that exempted information/calls are not listed,” he says. “This is to protect victims.”

Grobleski and Diggz say they have been working with the sheriff's community relations officer to get a county feed up and running, but Nieves says the department does not have any formal relationship with Tweet3PO. Rather, he says, the department is treating Tweet3PO's advances as an inquiry for information – not a collaboration or partnership.

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