Kenya’s Interior Ministry adopts Whatsapp to Boost Security and Public Interaction


Interior Ministry

In June 2015 during the World Social Media day, Senior Director Digital Media for the Kenya government, Dennis Itumbi said the government has an elaborate plan to aggressively use social media seeking to connect with Kenya’s citizenry. Itumbi cited a research on social media usage since the government came to power which concluded that the government did not have a good social media presence. The research also realized that the government’s social media use was mostly talking to people and not people talking to them. As of then only 294 government departments, representing 29% of the departments had a forayed into social media. In addition, only 67% of government departments had websites, 54% on Facebook, 28% on Twitter, 12% on YouTube, 1% on Instagram and a measly 0.004% on Whatsapp.

This seems to have changed with the Ministry of interior and Coordination of National Government issuing phone numbers to the public to use in reporting cases or asking questions via WhatsApp. Citizens can also use the numbers to ask questions via SMS. The ministry also provided twitter handles, emails and Facebook accounts and Instagram handles of CS Joseph Nkaisserry and Principal Secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho with the view of promoting interaction with the public as well as safeguarding the country. The numbers to use are +254 719 777 719 and +254 780 719 750 with communication on other social media platforms taking place under the #SecureKE hashtag.  The ministry also stated the numbers are strictly for WhatsApp and SMS. 

The move is particularly welcome as it has been replicated both locally and globally to much success. Chief Kariuki from Nakuru County uses Twitter to issue alerts to citizens in Lanet location. The alerts range from security issues, notices of public meetings and even goodwill messages. Last year, a police chief in Bangalore India announced plans to use Periscope, a livestream service owned by Twitter to fight crime. How exactly? Bangalore residents will use the Periscope app to livestream offences or crimes they see. There will be a control room in place to find the location the livestream comes from & the person shooting it and subsequently alerting the police station near the location.