Thursday, June 2, 2011

Federal Law Enforcement Using Enhanced Technology and Social Media

Over the past few months, many federal law enforcement agencies have been utilizing social media and other technologies to promote their missions, improve their recruiting and keep the public informed. The U.S. Secret Service launched their Twitter page on May 9, while the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is utilizing iPads for video surveillance.

According to the U.S. Secret Service, it's using a new Twitter account to highlight its investigative mission, share press releases, distribute information on upcoming events in local communities and promote upcoming recruitment opportunities. "The internet is a valuable resource for all people all over the world," said Secret Service Assistant Director Mickey Nelson. "By using social media sites, we hope to supplement our recruitment efforts, while providing an informative, helpful tool to businesses and individuals who are interested in information from our agency."

Other federal law enforcement agencies have established Twitter pages, including the FBI, with over 170,000 followers, and the Department of Homeland Security with over 36,000 followers. The U.S. Secret Service's Twitter page already has nearly 25,000 followers and has issued over 50 tweets since its launch.

ATF has approximately 50 iPhones and iPads for use; however, it is likely that number could double soon. ATF has used iPads to monitor arrests via video at the ATF National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., among other uses.

"People have better access to information technology at their homes than they do at work, and that's especially true in the public sector," said Vivek Kundra, the federal government's chief information officer. "If you look at the average school kid, he or she probably has better technology in his or her backpack than most of us do in government offices."

Elsewhere across government, federal agencies are utilizing the newest technology to enhance their abilities to do their jobs. Blackberries have been replaced by iPhones, Microsoft Outlook is being upended by Gmail and now iPads are used in place of laptops. Currently, the General Services Administration is in the process of moving 17,000 employees onto Gmail, while the Department of Veterans Affairs is giving their clinicians the option of an iPad or iPhone instead of the traditional blackberry.

"The rise of consumer technology in the enterprise-it's here," said Kundra. "It's happening as we speak."

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