Last Thursday night in Vancouver, Canada, over 100,000 fans descended into the city to watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals between their Canucks and the visiting Boston Bruins. Afterwards, following a 4-0 loss, scores of upset fans began to riot causing damage and destruction to office buildings, cars, and city property. With a police force only 1,600 strong and clearly overwhelmed by the scope of the rioting, the Vancouver PD ingeniously utilized social media to help track down leads and apprehend suspected rioters.
But the Vancouver PD wasn’t the only institution to turn to social media in the aftermath of the riot – the local government also deployed Tweets and Facebook postings to help Vancouver clean up, and in the process attracted thousands of local citizens in the effort. So, not only did only local government’s outreach in social media help to turn in criminals, it also served to inspire a sense of community to those eager in helping clean up their city.
The Vancouver PD is no stranger to social media as one look at their Twitter feed reveals. Effectively using forms of social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube should be a priority of all city governments, and can be especially useful in times of duress or emergency. For instance, inundated by help tips the Vancouver PD website crashed therefore forcing people to place calls, which in turn caused another logjam. Once recognized, the Vancouver PD took to Twitter to alert citizens of their website crash and busy phone lines, and asked them to send all tips (photo and video), via their Twitter account, so they could effectively respond to a situation.
Using social media to apprehend criminals shouldn’t be the only function of a city’s outreach program. Indeed, according to October17Media, a Facebook event titled “Post Riot Clean Up: Let’s Help Vancouver” amassed 15,000 people as ready to help in the effort. To keep people abreast of the downtown cleanup effort, a corresponding Twitter account, @VancouverClean, was set up and within hours had 3,500 followers. So, before the riot had even finished, multiple groups on both Twitter and Facebook were active and enlisting the support of thousands of citizens in helping to reclaim their city and its identity.
Also, a Twitter hashtag was created, #ThisIsMyVancouver, so that citizens could tweet all that is good and positive about Vancouver, be it through photos, messages or videos. Post riot, Vancouver shows us how a city can properly utilize all popular forms of social media to effectively outreach with its citizens while at the same time developing a stronger bond within the community that all residents can be proud of.
And just in case you’re wondering what San Antonio is most often referred to as on Twitter: #Military City