Organizations have their own culture and history, they act in a context that has a direct impact on everything they do. The introduction of new information and communication technologies (ICT), therefore, is a driver for change that goes beyond task optimization and efficiency. When coordinating the introduction of new ICT, we need to evolve the overall social configuration of an organization.
The COMPOSITE project, a research project funded by the European Commission as part of the 7th research framework program, aims at investigating organizational change within police forces. As the coordinator of the work package ‘Technology Adaptation’, I manage from Fraunhofer FIT a concerted effort of comparative research that involves 15 organizations from 10 countries.
In our research, we conduct a trend study that describes current and planned ICT change initiatives and compares the efforts of the police forces from different countries. Based on the identified trends, we organize best practices workshops with expert users from the police forces, researchers from a variety of backgrounds and ICT industry to further study the different developments and understand them in their larger cultural contexts. Further research that takes places locally with the police forces will support a deeper of linkage of social and technological developments and allow us to share knowledge with the police forces and the ICT industry acting in the participating countries.
In our trend study we have identified the emergence of social media as a pressing issue for the police. Social media can support the police in engaging in a closer dialogue with the public and support the identification of missing people as well as large scale police operations in crises situations. Social media, however, also threatens the police, as offenders, for instance, increasingly use social media to coordinate their actions. Additionally, social media makes police actions transparent and challenges the ways in which the police operate. To better understand this new relationship between the police and the public via social media, we have conducted research on the the role of twitter during the August 2011 riots in the United Kingdom and compared the ways in which the Metropolitan Police in London and the Greater Manchester Police used this medium. Interestingly, the Greater Manchester Police adopts twitter as a core tool for their community outreach efforts, as this radio piece of Deutsche Welle describes.
The movie below summarizes an international workshop on the topic that I organized for the COMPOSITE project with the Greater Manchester Police.
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Photos: David Adams & Hans van Rhoon
Movie: Greater Manchester Police