Friday, 15 October 2010

Should Emergency Service Call Outs be Tweeted?

emergencyservicesIn the past couple of days a lot of media attention has been focused on the new Twitter initiative launched by Greater Manchester Police (GMP). For a period of 24 hours all calls outs received were displayed across four twitter profiles. The initiative's main aim was to raise awareness of the daily work load of Police Officers.

As well as genuine call outs, the profile also highlighted the amount of time wasting calls operators receive, including hoaxes and situations barely needing the attention of a Police Officer. One call, for instance, was a complaint of a man walking in a designated dog walking area, without a dog.

As the project drew to a close, GMP spokesmen were hailing it as a great success, having brought more visibility and possibly sympathy to the role the Police play. Depending on the man hours taken to administer the profiles, it may well be worth considering repeating the exercise on a regular basis, given the positives outcomes achieved.

Should this be the case, the negatives should be considered too. It's a possibility that offering a public platform may actually encourage hoaxers, maybe even competition amongst them, especially if there's a chance of national media coverage.

Either way, this must be of interest to the NHS, as well as the Fire Service. Though traditionally they do have a better public perception than the Police, many of the same positives would still apply in making their day to day more visible.

There may also be a deeper effect. The nature of Social Media  has started to redefine how business conducts itself and as Public Services start to utilize the format, they may find they have to do the same. Bringing honesty, openness and transparency to the Police, who have at times been heavily criticised for not exactly holding these virtues to heart, could start fundamental shift in their practices.

Maybe the NHS should let the Police guinea pig the initiative for a while before giving it a go themselves.

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