Tag Archives: Gov 2.0

Blue Light Camp: In the UK, Spotlight on social media after 2011 riots

BlueLightCamp social media unconferenceNearly a year ago, as I caught up on tweets following my talk at the Police Leadership Conference, a series of tweets caught my eye. They came from Sasha Taylor, Chair of the National Police Web Managers Group.

Sasha and I got into a good discussion about social media use in law enforcement, and although my work took me in a different direction last year, he stayed on my radar. Which was why I got back in touch with him a few weeks ago, when he tweeted about the upcoming Blue Light Camp: an “unconference” designed to discuss public safety best practices for social media.

The free, daylong event will take place on Sunday, April 15th from 9am to 5pm at Manchester Central exhibition centre—the day before British APCO’s annual event. It will focus in particular on social media use in times of unrest, drawing from UK experiences in 2011. Cops 2.0 talked further about it with Camp organizer Paul Coxon:

How does BlueLightCamp fill a hole in crisis-related discussions that other gov-related or police-related conferences left open?

BlueLightCamp is unique in that it is the first truly multidisciplinary emergency services unconference in the UK. Most other conferences would either be for the police authorities or the fire services or front-line healthcare or social care providers, to our knowledge no one has yet created an event that brought them all together. Sasha recognised that a lot of the conversations being had within the police and healthcare arenas cut across all Blue Light Services and there was learning that could be of benefit to all.

The other big difference about Blue Light Camp is that, aside from the sectors involved, we are not dictating who should attend and already we have an exciting mix of communicators, front-line workers, people in senior and strategic roles and even research scientists who have signed up to attend.

What about the “unconference” format do you feel will best facilitate the discussions you envision taking place?

I used to have a boss who loved going to conferences because, in his own words, it was an easy day were he didn’t have to do anything and could basically sleep. Unfortunately for a lot of people that is what conferences are about, but that’s not what an unconference is about. Unconferences will not work without everyone playing their part and for this reason they attract the type of people who want to engage around the topics.

The type of people who want to engage are the type of people that are likely to share their learning and experiences, the type of people who will lead positive change in their organisation and the wider sector, and that is what Blue Light Camp is about, creating the conversations that lead to positive change.

In addition to this, unconferences often take place out of work hours, those attending do so in their own time and at their own cost, which contributes to making them more willing to participate, network, share best practice and take away new ideas to their organisations/local networks.

Crisis management and mapping will be presented. Any other sessions you know of that are (at least roughly) planned?

The beauty of an unconference is you won’t really know the sessions that will be pitched until delegates begin pitching them, but we are hopeful to see examples of how 24-hour tweeting has worked for police service and council services, the ways in which Facebook and Twitter have been used to engage communities, metrics of SM channels, gamification are all topics discussed at other conferences.

People often discuss other areas of SM such as use of QR codes, Wikipedia, open data, blogging and general communications. We also have research fellows attending from the Disaster 2.0 project which is looking at use of social media during disasters and emergencies.

People come to unconferences to either share an idea or an experience so will lead a session for this reason; others will have barriers/questions that they would like discuss with others that have experienced the same issues or have the expertise to find a solution. Sharing at its best.

How many of your participants will also attend BAPCO, and what do you hope they will bring with them from BLC?

One of the perks of signing up with Blue Light Camp is membership of British APCO, who are our venue sponsors, we would hope as many BlueLightCamp-ers as possible will stick around for the BAPCO Annual Exhibition and Development Sessions, but more than this, we hope they will carry on the BlueLightCamp conversations with those BAPCO members who were not able to attend.

Paul, David and Sasha will also be on hand throughout the BAPCO event to continue any conversations from the BlueLightCamp event and to help with any social media surgeries to continue the sharing experiences  and best practice.

Will you make available content for people who were unable to attend BLC?

We will be making BLC content available across a number of channels before, during and after the event, from videos, blogs, podcasts, and live-tweeting. The main source of information will always be the BlueLightCamp site:  http://bluelightcamp.wordpress.com/

Participants are expected and encouraged to tweet throughout the event and people often blog about their experiences post event. Many of the new connections people make continue well beyond the closing speeches at the event.

Anything else you would like to mention? 

So far, the response  to BlueLightCamp has been very positive with 75% of the 170 tickets going within three weeks of our launch. We have a variety of brilliant sponsors that have the vision to support these events and thus making them free for the attendees. Without the sponsors unconferences would not be so easy to put on.

After a, hopefully, successful event this year planning will start again for 2013 with the aim of making this a regular calendar event for Blue Light Services.

Blue Light Camp will be open to all UK Blue Light Services and those people who work with them. Join them in Manchester on April 15; if you can’t make the event, be sure to follow along with the #BlueLightCamp hashtag on Twitter! Vendors may also want to consider sponsoring the event.

Another move, another redesign, a change in scope

IMG_1200If you’ve visited Cops 2.0 in the last few weeks, you probably saw that it was down — not once, but twice. If you’re reading it now, you probably also see that it’s gone to a somewhat more minimalist design. Finally, you’ve probably further noticed that the contributor list is gone.

Yes folks, more changes are afoot as of today, Cops 2.0’s second birthday. First, it has returned stateside after its brief run as official blog of the Canadian Association of Police on Social Media. CAPSM founding members realized that they needed a blog that more accurately reflected Canadian laws, culture, and policing; Cops 2.0’s content, however, had been mainly US-focused. CAPSM also thought it made sense for all their content to be housed in one place, which you’ll be able to find at capsm.ca/blog.

I continue to support CAPSM’s research and other work, and am very pleased to have had the opportunity to partner with them. This was a valuable learning experience for both of us — namely, that you can’t always know whether something will work until you actually try it. And then, even if it doesn’t work the way you thought it would, you must tweak.

Which brings me to the second change: scope. When I read articles like this one, which note a statistic that 81% of 700+ U.S. law enforcement agencies are using social media, I can’t help but think back to when I said I was bored with social media.

You see, there are only so many times you can read about some agency’s new Facebook or Twitter account. While these uses are important, they are not and should not be the end of a law enforcement agency’s social media use. That use is in flux, as Gov2.0 blogger Lovisa Williams points out, and the best people to manage that flux are the front-liners themselves.

A number of good blogs and conferences have stepped up to address this, not the least of which is the IACP itself. I think they all have “law enforcement + social media” pretty well covered.

Meanwhile, the more entrenched I become in helping my corporate clients figure out how to use social media, the more I learn about how these tools integrate with other technology and other forms of communication — and how the communication impacts my clients’ business goals.

Cops 2.0’s tagline has therefore changed from “branding police work via social media” to “Communications, Technology & Service.” I want to hear about police technology use in its many different forms, online or offline, and how it impacts communications with your communities, be they on social media or through more traditional channels.

I believe this is the best way to continue to deliver the same high quality content you’ve always gotten, whether it comes weekly or monthly, or somewhere in between. If you want to contribute, so much the better — just let me know.

Meanwhile, thanks for sticking with me over two years. I’m looking forward to the next steps the third year brings!

Creative Commons License photo credit: schjlatah