I was rather taken with the stunt from Greater Manchester Police to highlight EVERY incident that is reported over a 24 hour period. Apart from learning that a car caused an obstruction in Marple, we were able to sleep in our beds safely here in leafy land.
Here are the stats:
"Between 5am on Thursday 14 October 2010 and 5am, today, Friday 15 October, the force has dealt with 3205 incidents and posted details of every single one on Twitter."
The cops reported it had been a success too. Here's the MEN report. Here's the BBC.
It ticks a lot of boxes about accountability and accessibility. More of that, please. It also gets across a harsh truth that the "hard working taxpayers" don't always like to confront. Not only are there a small and irritating number of horrible people out there doing a lot of horrible things, there are also a lot of very stupid people wasting time.
But I also noticed that the chief constable mentioned the decline of local media as a reason to use new technology like the social media channel Twitter. This is a good point. The facts bear it out too. I'm sure there was a heyday when the local daily paper, the local BBC and Granada would touch everyone. All the chief had to do was make a statement and it would be reported. Everyone would share the experience, most people would have a view. It's just not like that now. There may be many more outlets, including the daily news service in our office where a hive of activity spreads a dozen or more regional business stories every morning. But overall, we know so much less.
Knowledge and engagement about public services, indeed, anything that goes on around us has never been poorer. In a world where we supposedly can know everything about a bunch of rescued miners in Chile, or the takeover of Liverpool Football Club, we are surprised and outraged at what our local police have to do on a daily basis. There have never been as many ways to tell us stuff, but there actually seems to be less understanding of more things.