On June 9 2012, the Netherlands lost its football match against Denmark in the 2012 European Championships. Some disappointed fans organized themselves through social media and ‘planned’ to meet and riot – without previously knowing each other –around a public square in the City of The Hague. It was not on a big scale, but is a typical example of how Digital Transformation affects law enforcement.
Following social media channels in The Hague has now become a routine and integral part of policing – as in many other forces in the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, the US and increasingly in other countries. Flash robs – where people plan via social media to mass rob a store together – have become a known phenomenon. And evidence of what happens on a larger scale was clearly visible with the August 2011 UK riots.
However, where awareness has been raised on how social media as a tool can contribute to policing, practice is not yet mature. Often, for instance, social media are used as a data source to find early warnings for riots around sporting events or in crisis situations. Yet to date most police forces and crisis management organizations have failed to systematically interpret and feed this data to their core processes, systems and people. Surely this misses a vital link in the information chain. What’s needed is an effective communications strategy that embraces social media and the cyber space behind it.
In my article ‘Digital Transformation in Public Security and Policing‘ I look at the ways in which cyber space has become important for public security. For example, new methods are being used for criminal activities, such as the exchange of prohibited material in a relatively anonymous fashion by pedophiles. Law enforcement agencies must become equally savvy when it comes to new technology to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.