Nixle and VeriSign have created an SMS social network specifically for police and municipal forces in the US. The new service allows them to communicate at a neighborhood-level to spread community and safety information.
VeriSign has created the messaging platform along the lines of other SMS social networks. Since the messages will be coming from law enforcement and government agencies, security is paramount. Nixle will be providing security to ensure that only trusted and authentic messages are delivered on the channel.
Eight states are testing the new service. The service is currently live in Chula Vista, California.
From the release:
“Thanks to Nixle, our residents know what’s happening in their city — from local emergencies and traffic advisories to upcoming cultural events and public workshops. And they get their information instantly,” said Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox. “Thousands of Chula Vistans are getting secure, reliable messages directly from our departments. Wherever I go, I run into satisfied Nixle subscribers. Residents are pleased their city is communicating with them.”
“Current social networking services are not built on authenticated and secure foundations, which translate to a bombshell waiting to explode when it comes to public safety information,” said Nixle founder Craig Mitnick. “When it comes to public safety information, you have to trust the source of the information. With Nixle, you will. The value of SMS messaging is immeasurable. We’re excited to work with VeriSign to bring the power of SMS messaging to government and municipal organizations. This agreement with VeriSign ensures that these entities will have the ability to communicate with their residents through the preferred method of communication.”
What we think?
This isn’t the first “city services” use we’ve seen mobile devices put to, and I doubt it will be the last. While the projects like this in the UK tend to be more along the lines of public service campaigns, a lot of cities in the US are using phones to bring services to citizens. My worry with this service is that people would view it as being almost the same as spam. Once someone gets the 20th SMS in a row warning them of road-works in a part of the city that has no effect on them, they might be tempted to opt-out of this.