twitter-logo-01Think Twitter is only useful as a social platform for sharing your thoughts and views on a particular subject in 140 characters or less? While it’s certainly become the hottest social networking site for sharing the ‘brief’ messages, the Rome police force has found a different use for it: to locate illegally parked cars, scooters or other automobiles.

Rome police have set up a Twitter accounted dedicated specifically for locating illegally parked cars. They encourage both residents and tourists to Tweet the location and details of any illegally parked vehicles to @PLRomaCapitale. Once the details are Tweeted over to the authorities, they typically respond with a time frame. Most residents who’ve used the new Tweeting system claim that Rome police respond within a couple hours.

You might be wondering why the police force decided to use Twitter to try and locate illegally parked cars. After all, how much of a problem can a couple illegally parked cars create? To put the problem into perspective, you must first look at the population of the city. The 2010 census for Rome was 2.753 million residents, half of which own private vehicles.

According to some estimates, there are approximately 70 vehicles for every 100 residents in Rome, clogging the narrow streets and historic passages. If you’ve visited Rome or other historic cities throughout Italy, you’re probably well aware of their long, windy and incredibly narrow roads. Some of these roads are hundreds of years old, so the government isn’t going to change them simply to keep up with the modernization of new automobiles. Unfortunately, this has led to many people parking their cars and vehicles wherever they choose, disregarding local traffic laws.

One of the biggest traffic problems in Rome is double parking. Drivers are allowed to park on the sides of most streets as long as they are up against the curb so cars may still pass. However, double parking occurs when a driver parks his or her car directly next to a car that’s already parked against the curb. With over 2.7 million residents packed into the Rome, drivers park their vehicles wherever they choose, compounding the problem of traffic congestion. The city’s already narrow streets become even more difficult — and oftentimes impossible — to travel when cars are double parked.

Raffaele Clemente, head of Rome’s urban police force, said the following:

Sharing, such as on social networks, is needed to fight certain patterns of illegality and rule-breaking, and also of crime.

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