Social media developments are moving so rapidly that public safety and security?is being transformed permanently. These information channels and communications platforms have become indispensable and have a huge impact on organisations, work processes and employees. ?It is essential that this is mastered as preparation for what security organisations can expect in the near future”, states Arnout de Vries. A new manual offers support.
?A lot of information can already be found online and the increased use of social media means there will be even more in the coming years?, stated De Vries. ?A trend is for people to communicate with each other in closed groups. That is why municipalities and security organisations need to become an active and integral part of relevant online groups. An example of what is happening now is the neighbourhood cop who uses WhatsApp as part of a community group.? Another development is the increase in video uploads. A huge amount is already being uploaded to YouTube, but new smartphones and the 5G network enable that everyone will soon have their own live TV channel. ?An incident? Citizens will soon be able to use a smartphone or glasses to stream live images to the internet. How should a government respond? There won’t be any delay TV for this footage. Maybe there could be images of perpetrators or of interesting witnesses. New tools are needed to obtain good situational awareness.?
Realtime image and data analysis
TNO is conducting research into intelligent imaging to enable essential information to be obtained from the hundreds if not thousands of social TV channels that will be created during a crisis. Image recognition technology will be used to search for relevant images such as fires or specific objects. This realtime processing and analysis of video images is still a challenge. Research is also being conducted into realtime processing of huge quantities of data and pattern recognition of situations in which threats are increasing. ?As well as this technological research, we are also conducting social science research into such things as online social influencing. It is interesting to know how people influence each other, how rumours can spread quickly and what you can do to counteract this. At TNO we have various scientific disciplines which we can combine to cope with societal issues.?
Virtual tap on the shoulder
?A consequence of the huge amount of data and image streaming is that it is impractical for security organisations to continue to respond in the traditional way. For example, there isn’t sufficient physical capacity to intervene in the tens of thousands of death threats and racist messages that are placed online every day. That is why TNO expects a lot from a method such as digitation. It is a virtual form of looking someone in the eye or tapping them on the shoulder. In many cases, you don’t need to arrest a teenager who has posted on Facebook that he’s going to set fire to the school. An online response from a local policeman could already be enough. The same goes for someone who spreads false information about an incident. Digitation helps to control, to educate and to bring online norms and values in balance. This is the most effective long-term approach because security organisations are no longer able to address all online wrongdoings. Citizens themselves must play a role.
The Instituut Fysieke Veiligheid (Institute for Physical Security) has published the ?Social media transforms the security field’ manual. This includes social media functions and characteristics, how these can be used during incidents, their impact on work processes, required competences of employees and how security organisations can respond to messages. It also focuses on online threats to employees who have a public service role, on future developments and on dilemmas. Arnout de Vries is one of the guest authors of this manual.