Thursday, August 11, 2011

Police Struggle to Keep Tabs on 'Flash Mobs'

Associated Press
August 9, 2011

Rioters in London and elsewhere have been turning to Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools to stay one step ahead of the police.  Read more.

Comment: Twitter and Facebook are just the latest version of large groups using modern mobile technologies to do evil - something that started with the basic cellphone (example: Mankato State riot of 2006).  And unless response forces have at their disposal real time situational awareness tools like a Common Operating Picture (COP) (geospatial visualization) or a Blue Force Tracker system, they are at a distinct disadvantage when dealing with these types of situations because of the dynamic, fast moving nature of the events.  In addition, the inherent need to quickly introduce additional forces from outside the jurisdiction means many of the responders are without geographic knowledge of the place they are being brought in to protect.  Verbal communication via radios is simply not powerful enough to manage a situation like this - instead, highly mobile geospatial visualization systems are needed.
Taken to the extreme, when an incident like the rioting in London gets out of hand due to the lack of situational awareness on the part of law enforcement, taxpayers can be left with a hefty bill.  Indications from the London riots point toward 10's of millions of dollars in damage.  On the flip side, the city of Los Angeles, CA was forced to pay out over $13.0 million dollars to protesters over excessive use of force after police officers lost situational awareness (and control) of a gathering in MacArthur Park on May 1st, 2007.  The geospatial "ounce of prevention" for these types of losses, would have cost a whole lot less.

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