Friday, March 3, 2017

It takes a village (an online village)...Social media enhances safety in Davidson

Social media is everywhere.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are the biggest and most popular platforms - providing ubiquitous ability to be "connected".  There are also countless smaller platforms springing up.  One of those smaller players that has gotten more and more traction in Davidson over the past year is Nextdoor.

Nextdoor is a bit different in that it focuses on connecting via your neighborhood.  Rather than joining the platform generically and having to grow your own network of connections, you join directly into your neighborhood via your home address.  When you send and receive messages you do it via your neighborhood and the neighboring neighborhoods.

People commonly use it to sell things, ask for recommendations on all sorts of local items, and post neighborhood news items.  The Town of Davidson also uses it as part of the town communications strategy.  According to Public Information Officer Christna Shaul:

"The Town of Davidson uses to post general, crime and safety, and lost and found information to the whole jurisdiction of Davidson or to specific neighborhoods, depending on the message. For example, we recently posted information about the Davidson Police Department offering home security checks to the entire jurisdiction. When the Town of Davidson street cleaning truck was going to be working along South Street and North Main Street in the early morning hours, we selected those specific geographies to post a courtesy message, so people would not be alarmed by the noise.

The Town of Davidson cannot see internal neighborhood conversations. If employees live in Davidson and have joined, they might see posts from their personal accounts as members of their neighborhoods.

Last Sunday night the platform was used to address a serious local safety issue - aggressive teen driving.  But not in the way you might think...

One local user from Davidson's River Run neighborhood posted a picture of a car saying he had witnessed a local teen driving recklessly.  Three other users quickly chimed in saying they had similar run ins with a similar looking vehicle. Eventually, another user joined the conversation, and this person appeared to be either the teen driver himself or possibly a relative.

To  say the least, the typical "spirited" back and forth of social media ensued.  The incidents had been reported to police.  The accused had supposedly spoken to the police and been vindicated.  Claims of impersonation and false police reports flew.

Then, Davidson Police Chief Jeanne Miller joined the conversation.  (Remember that point in  the PIO's comments about employees being citizens too?)

Chief Miller asked to speak offline to the person defending the teen's action.  It's Town policy to not resolve issues in on line discussions, so this was the appropriate course of action.  According to responses this week from the town something happened.   It also appears there was some level of mediation.

One thing we do know.  The entire thread was deleted from Nextdoor on Wednesday.

According to Shaul in a follow-up conversation Thursday afternoon, the Town has no idea why the thread was deleted.  However, one can surmise it had something to do with the attention this received, and hopefully the driver in question got the message "people are watching, so drive safely."

No comments:

Post a Comment