Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui urged administrators to take advantage of social media platforms such as Twitter and mobile phone crime reporting systems to boost the fight against insecurity by leveraging on the large number of Kenyans with smartphones.
Speaking during the burial ceremony of Lanet Umoja location Chief Francis Kariuki, popularly known as the ‘tweeting chief’, the governor said mobile technology would be effective in promoting security as majority of Kenyans owned phones.
“Data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) indicate that there are close to 40 million mobile phone subscribers in Kenya, out of which an estimated 44 percent are smartphones.
“Efforts to boost security are mostly hampered by citizens’ unwillingness to report crime through traditional channels, due to safety concerns. Mobile technology ensures that information can be reported anonymously and this will boost reporting of crimes,” said the governor
Mr. Kinyanjui noted that through Twitter, Chief Kariuki was able to track missing livestock, thwart house break-ins and muggings by thugs, trace missing persons and track stolen items among others. By exploiting the digital platform, the governor said the administrator was able to reach many people and improve his working standards.
“If all our chiefs adopted mobile technology in discharging their duties, their information can be used to map out crime hotspots in the country. The information gathered will help members of the public to remain vigilant towards crime,” he added.
The County Boss observed that while the Information Communication Technology (ICT) adoption by Kenyan society has been rapid, the administrators at the grassroots had not systematically incorporated the ICT into their operations and instead relied on face to face communication.
“It must be borne in mind the modern crimes basically are borderless and use of technology in policing in addition to traditional policing practices is inevitable.
Use of mobile phone applications such Twitter and Facebook as a tool for community policing allows residents to engage in daily police work. This technology can be used by citizens as a way to share local information about their safety with chiefs and law enforcement agencies,” Kinyanjui told mourners
The tech-savvy Chief who led a community of more than 30,000 residents received global attention in 2014 for using Twitter and other social media platforms to fight crime and discharge his duties.
His Twitter account shows he has about 60,000 followers and those who receive his tweets via text message are said to be in the thousands.
Subscribers get his tweets in real-time via free text messages and don’t need to have a Twitter account or an internet connection.
The chief could send them at any time of the day or night using his Smartphone.
By the time of his death, Chief Kariuki’s tweeting had reduced the crime rate in Lanet Umoja.
By Anne Mwale