Since then, the ASU has amassed nearly 80,000 followers and tweeted some spectacular aerial shots of London, such as this one of Canary Wharf, a financial district, on a foggy day. It went viral.
Those who thought the last image was Canary Wharf are wrong (it looks like this...) pic.twitter.com/i7u7x0BIkp— MPS Helicopters (@MPSinthesky) December 11, 2013
Pilots take photos on their smartphones while shuttling between calls, and tweet them from the same devices.
There is an Instagram account too. But naturally, the Met, as the police force is known, doesn't put pilots in the sky just to take nice pictures. The police helicopters' main jobs include helping find suspects, ferrying police dogs around, pursuing vehicles, and more. Jobs they take seriously, with the occasional dash of humor:
Ducking down behind a wall does not make you invisible! pic.twitter.com/lzEWJc28aM— MPS Helicopters (@MPSinthesky) February 2, 2014
So why did the Met feel the need to put its helicopters on Twitter? Part of its public outreach. The Met wanted Londoners to know that the helicopter overhead was a police helicopter, and why it's there. Most tweets don't have photos but are simple and fact-based like this one:
Assisting @MPSWandsworth with several mopeds failing to stop. Other aircraft in the area are not ours.— MPS Helicopters (@MPSinthesky) March 19, 2014
But it's also to get people to stop complaining about the racket overhead. As a result of the Twitter account, noise complaints due to the helicopters are down 90 percent, Met spokesman Alex Fedorcio says. The account has been more successful than the department expected. Still, going viral is not something the Met tried to do, Fedorcio said. It's just a happy bonus.
Trafalgar Square at about 1730 hours. pic.twitter.com/jYQUGlAKDv— MPS Helicopters (@MPSinthesky) February 5, 2014
This post originally appeared on Quartz. More from our partner site: