Tuesday, February 06, 2007

How the Boston Terror could have been averted...

Last week's ersatz terrorism scare in Boston played counterpoint to a real case of terror in Florida. It's hard to decide which travels faster, a tornado or a piece of misinformatiion.

File this one under: DUH!

The lesson from the Boston "bomb scare": Empower your audience and use the web to investigate.

The Boston bomb scare could have been averted with a keyboard.
by Steve Safran

You probably heard about the debacle. Police converged upon a suspicious device early Wednesday morning. It was electronic, had wires and a battery, so they -- wisely -- decided to bring in the bomb squad to blow the thing apart with a water cannon.

It was at that point, on Wednesday morning, that they could have known what they had was not a bomb, or even a hoax bomb -- but a sign for a cartoon character from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."

The media began wall-to-wall coverage once the police started turning up more of these devices. The general peg of the story all afternoon was that these suspicious devices -- even called "hoax bombs" were all over the city. But the media and the police made a strategic mistake.

It was a mistake that could have stopped the mess in its tracks, saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and prevented the city from being paralyzed with traffic snarls and -- yes -- fear.


There's nothing revolutionary about this. We do it all the time. Amber Alerts go out with the child's picture and description. And the Amber Alerts work. We show license plate numbers, car descriptions and police sketches of suspects. All we needed to do was follow that same procedure, along with doing some basic online investigation.

The Boston bomb scare was a one-way story. The police and media told Boston what was going on. If it had been a conversation, a two-way discussion online, the audience could have told Boston what was happening instead.

Good observations.
Thanks again, Doc.

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