Twitter could be better at detecting riots than police
Twitter could identify violent activities, such as riots, well before the police is ever notified, according to a study by Cardiff University. Research shows that the advantage of social media could be of over an hour.
Researchers at Cardiff University analyzed approximately 1.6 million tweets related to the 2011 London riots, and found that in the London Borough of Enfield, computer systems could have detected reports of disorder from Twitter an hour and 23 minutes before the police was notified.
“In this research, we show that online social media are becoming the go-to place to report observations of everyday occurrences – including social disorder and terrestrial criminal activity,” said co-author of the study, Dr. Pete Burnap.
This, of course, doesn't mean that police will become obsolete due to social media. In fact, Burnap made sure to clarify that such tech can be used to support “more established policing methods” and social media can't be a substitution for law enforcement.
Police officials are well aware of the benefits of social media, and a lot of local police departments rely heavily on Facebook and Twitter to get information to and from the public. However, law enforcement rarely relies on the actual data it can pull from social media. This study goes to show that there are a lot more opportunities to explore in that regard.