If you've been to Rome, you know that traffic in the city can be...challenging. The parking situation is no better -- in fact, on the streets of Rome's centuries-old center, finding a spot for even the itsy-bitsiest Italian microcar can take a very, very long time. As a result, drivers often get creative with their parking jobs, clogging Rome's already cramped streets and alleyways.
At long last, though, the authorities believe they've found a solution for Rome's parking problem -- one that merges the tattling of Mussolini-style fascism with 21st century technology. Basically, they've asked residents to post photos of bad parking jobs to Twitter.
In December, police began encouraging mobile phone-users to snap pics of drivers who'd left their vehicles in no-parking areas, double-parked, or otherwise in violation of city law. They then asked folks to tweet those photos to the department's Twitter account. In the first 30 days of the campaign, police received more than 1,100 complaints, and officials were able to respond to around 740 of them, handing out several hundred citations in the process.
Over the long term, the police department hopes to make the process more seamless, allowing residents to track the status of their complaints. Officials also hope to use the tweets to create data maps, identifying problem areas that need special attention.
Unsurprisingly, the officer in charge of the program, Raphael Clemente is a big fan of it. Speaking to Reuters, Clemente said that "It's a great opportunity to give a sign of modernity, openness and transparency" (Google translation). And from where we sit, it is -- but like many programs that rely on citizen reporting, it also has the potential to be misused by residents with vendettas against their neighbors. Hopefully, the authorities have built in safeguards to keep things from getting out of hand.