Snow rarely falls in Atlanta, so when it did, the media was so busy covering the impacts downtown that suburbs got lost in the flurries. That’s when one discovered the power of social media.
The Johns Creek Police Department used technology from Council Associate Partner SunGard Public Sector to get its news directly to the community during the storm and now is finding even more ways to use the platform to better connect with the community.
Snowstorm provides test
The snowstorm resulted in road closures and other impacts to services over the entire Atlanta metro area. But the news media, based in Atlanta, didn’t have time or the resources to find and tell the stories of neighboring communities. Johns Creek, even though it’s only a few miles from Atlanta, was left out of the coverage.
To help its citizens, Johns Creek turned to social media. The city’s residents could get the latest information through the police department’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, practically in real-time. The city used SunGard Converge Police-to-Citizen, which provided the department with a central platform to reach all the various types of social media.
Getting the public more involved
The department uses its social media channels even when the weather isn’t an issue. It has posted information about suspects it’s looking for. It says tips often start pouring in moments later, and in some cases, it’s caught people on its “most wanted” list within 24 hours.
But it’s not only about crime. Johns Creek posts information about its community involvement and has even used its platform to help reunite lost pets with their owners. It found the owners of one lost dog within a couple hours of posting its picture online.
Going beyond social media
After the success of its social media efforts, the Johns Creek Police Department launched its own smartphone apps this year, which are also powered by technology from SunGard Public Sector.
Its apps, available for both iPhone and Android smartphones, are a great example of e-government, giving the public easy access to traffic and missing persons bulletins, crime reports and "most wanted" information. Citizens can also use the apps to file police reports, get alarm registration forms and search the sex offender registry, among other police services. The agency recently reminded citizens they can use the app to let police know when they’re on vacation so officers can keep a closer eye on their homes.
Johns Creek says the success of any police department is largely based on communication with the public and having more and better ways to have a two-way conversation is proving helpful.