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109th Precinct to pilot NYPD’s newest online social experience

Photo courtesy of Rob Trombley

The 109th Precinct’s commander, Captain Thomas Conforti, has become an ambassador of social media and technology to the NYPD.

He was one of the first commanding officers in the city tapped to introduce Twitter while leading the 112th Precinct last year, and he organized the first online precinct community council meeting.

Next month, the tech-savvy police captain will serve his online-forward liaison role again as the first in the department to make use of a growing social software platform called IdeaScale. The crowdsourcing platform will give residents the ability to vote and give feedback on ideas or projects by the precinct.

“Twitter is good for me to get information out to people, but when I need to know people’s opinions on something in the community, how do I get that?” Conforti said to a room full of members of the recently formed We Love Whitestone organization on Wednesday. “I think it’s a step in the right direction. It’s going to build on my belief that the police department is reaching far more people that have concerns than they ever had before.”

After an idea is submitted on IdeaScale by an organization, members can share their opinions, which can be anonymous, and they can vote on the idea. The goal is to get more people involved to make better decisions and strengthen ideas.

Created in 2009, the software is being used worldwide by 25,000 customers and 4 million users, according to its website. This includes various private organizations, institutions, and federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and even the White House.

One way the precinct will use IdeaScale is to share plans for events and collect feedback from residents, Conforti said. They’ll be able to know what members of the community think and what’s popular.

Conforti believes that it will also help them reach more people who want to connect with the precinct but may not have the time to attend monthly community meetings.

“We understand that people might have some issues so they don’t come to meetings,” Conforti said. “They could reach out any time at their convenience over social media.”

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