The Topsham 1 and Student Mayhem

Some interesting conversation on twitter last night and today about the so-called “ban” on @topshampolice twitter account.

The BBC have posted an article here which talks about the issues and the support around “free the topsham 1” and the guardian indicate that this maybe a direction of travel for the Police – which would be a shame.

Depending on what you read, there isn’t a ban, it is a review with training and if other places there is a ban…just gotta love the social web for its accurate reporting 🙂

I’m a fan of @topshampolice, she is actually my local PCSO (or was as she also helped another local PCSO) join twitter for my specific local area so I always found her tweets informative and helpful.  I had occasional conversations with her about stuff she was reporting which made me feel connected and raised my awareness of her role within my community and the wider community.

The handling and reporting of this has been rather strange in my personal opinion. The Guardian article states this from Devon and Cornwall Police

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said: “Devon and Cornwall police embraces social media and all staff’s responsible use of it.

“The force’s main Twitter account has more than 11,500 followers and we value it greatly as a way of communicating with communities and the wider public.

“The PCSO concerned has been given words of advice around the content of tweets, but has not been banned or stopped from tweeting.

“The force has a social media policy which gives clear guidance to all staff on what is deemed appropriate, and in this case, training will now be given to the PCSO so she can better use social media in the future as an innovative communication tool.

“There is no doubt that social media is a very quick and effective means which can have pitfalls, but we are committed to ensuring staff have the knowledge and expertise wherever possible to use it properly.”

Ok, so let me think about this for a moment….the force embraces social media, it has a high number of followers, it has clear guidance on what is appropriate and training has been offered….hmmm no reference to the University and the student behaviour in freshers week – nope, just that a PCSO who does good work locally refers to what she sees and gets in trouble and clearly all the above policy, guidance and training isn’t working…or wasn’t put in place before this account was created…maybe an internal learning point there…

This is really an issue of acceptable behaviour.

This is I believe the actual tweet that triggered these events – I’m guessing of course but the rest are all fine in my personal opinion:

Perhaps if this was deemed inappropriate it could have been followed with a tweet like

“Not all students are bad of course, but we do need to do our jobs and keep people safe”

I’m actually more surprised in this situation by the reaction of the University or lack of …I think they should recognise this, accept it and work with local people to address it. The PCSO is in a perfect position to facilitate that conversation ironically.

And of course I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that all or any of this is in any way linked to this recent news…


It is also interesting but I’m in no way implying anything by this of course – to see a similar natured tweet retweeted by the Exeter Students Union Welfare officer….hmmmm 🙂

DCC Social Media Forum 4 – #DCCSMF

At the moment, It feels like organising events are something I’m involved in quite a bit, which isn’t a problem when the events are Open Space South West and now the DCC Social Media Forum 4, although this time, I’m getting one of my team Russell to help out and take more of a lead.

I announced the tickets a couple of weeks ago and it has almost sold out which is reassuring to know but also demonstrates the increasing desire from colleagues across the council and our partners to learn and share learning around social and digital technologies. If you work in the public sector in Devon and want to come along get in touch via the comments and I’ll pass the details on. I’ve started to collect names of people who want to be on a distribution list for these kinds of things.

The development of the social media forum has been interesting and is something that has already become a critical way of maintaining an overview on the projects which are going on across the council.

It is through this event you start to get into the details of the projects you previously only heard about at a high level and thought “that sounds like a good idea, wonder how that will work”.

The pace of social projects means that you never really have to wait a long time to learn from the outcomes and experiences from the people who were involved, although some benefits and outcomes won’t be seen for some time.

The event is on Friday 13th July (lucky for us) and I’ll blog about the day and share any presentations and insights afterwards.

The previous events summary and presentations can be found here

Developing a digital passport…well hopefully

Last year I put together a “very simple” social media awareness session for our councillors and one of the learning points for me was to push forward with a Digital Passport idea.

We need to develop a “Digital Passport” training programme which supports members and staff to feel confident to use these tools and feel supported by the organisational frameworks and guidance that exists or needs to be developed.

Time flies when you’re having fun, and I can’t believe it is already March and I’ve yet to even sit down and put my ideas onto paper, so this blog post is an attempt at that process.

So, why a digital passport?

I thought long and hard about whether this was something that was actually needed and i came to the conclusion that it probably isn’t critical, but would certainly provide a bit of support to the people who are using the tools outside of a corporate communications or web team.

I’m all for a wider range of people to use social media in and across the council, but part of me thinks that organisational we lose the learning and experience gained from across the user base and we also lose sight of what is and isn’t good and effective use.

However using some kind of “passport” user could gain experience points and essentially work up to something like a “five-star tweeter” or something equally “digital”.

One of the benefits in creating such a passport would be when people decide to move around the organisation or even leave the organisation…they could say that they were managing the [insert service name] twitter account and had a 4 star twitter use and a 3 star Facebook use on their passport then you could have some confidence that they at least knew what they were doing…whereas, if someone came into the organisation (unlikely in current climate but you get my drift) and said I use twitter and Facebook all the time, day and night, how can you ensure that they at least understand the differences between managing personal accounts and professional accounts.

Maybe I’m over thinking this, but three is something for me in perhaps collaborating in a local government and wider public sector “digital passport” so we could recognise the experience people are gaining in new media channels and we start to understand what “excellent usage” looks like.

Part of developing such a tool would be part of the learning itself as i don’t think we are capable of answering all those questions now, but we can probably all say what we wouldn’t want to see and that is a start.

In a crude way it is a bit like someone doing the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) but for social and digital media tools.

Tools initially in my thinking are:

  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube / vimeo
  • flickr

Thoughts and comments welcome as well as any offers to collaborate on such a tool


Further developing the Content Strategy

It has been a fascinating process developing the councils first content strategy, the personal learning and development which I’ve had to do as well as helping others understand the benefits of what we are calling a content strategy has also been an interesting and rewarding challenge.

In an email conversation with Sarah Lay (my unofficial content strategy peer review person) we touched on the issue of whether the content strategy I am creating is actually what the content strategy community would recognise as one…we both agreed and concluded that it didn’t really matter, as long as it did the job!

We touched on the fact that in #localgov we are really getting to a point where a group of disciplines are coming together and depending on your organisation it is likely to approach it slightly differently.

The types of things the content strategy is informing, linking to and dependant on are (in no particular order):

  • Communications strategy
  • Engagement Strategy
  • ICT Strategy
  • Information Strategy
  • Access Strategy

It has replaced a traditional web strategy altogether in my mind as we recognise that the “web” as a platform is essentially how we will manage our ICT infrastructure.

So unpicking the old web strategy further, a new strategy which is the responsibility of my ICT colleagues is an Application Strategy – this is essentially the strategy that informs our delivery of online services.

In my informal consultation on the draft content strategy, it has become clear that:

a) everyone agreed with the spirit of the document but it relied on conversation and explanation to answer people’s questions as they weren’t found in the document < but this is what the process was intended to tease out.

b) I didn't clearly articulate the strategic direction and focused too much on the 2 year roadmap < people were actually more engaged in where we are going than I had anticipated.

c) people didn't understand some aspects of what it is being proposed and the full extent of how we would apply a global experience language < My view is that it will be a complete rule book covering our web domain and not just the visual design of it, it will also form a critical and core part of a future procurement and commissioning framework for web/digital stuff.

One of the benefits of developing a content strategy is that I don't feel we need a social media strategy now. If we get the content strategy correct then our use of social media platforms to increase the engagement and interaction with our content will naturally increase…this does not mean that our use of social media will simply go crazy…but more than we will focus on the needs of the content, where the audience is and how we connect our content with the audience…the logical conclusion is that it won't be on our website but in social spaces.

And it is this strategic direction which people are really supportive of and are really engaged with…I've got one more week of informal consultations then a period of refinement and amendments on my document (which I've already started) then the content strategy will be ready for formal sign off internally by our corporate leadership team (gulp).

The next few weeks are going to be interesting.

Social Media Training for Foster Carers

In February one of my team will be delivering a social media training session for a group of Foster Carers.

Now this isn’t a group of people who would have been on my target list for training from my team, however thinking about the needs of the group and the issues and challenges they have to face, it seems an obvious choice.

These are not DCC employees, they are Foster Carers who have asked for support and advice from our Foster Care team around the social web and the web in general.

This is a really interesting area as one of the main areas of focus the group want to find out about is eSafety.

We are not eSafety experts, nor in fact do we claim to be, however we will be signposting them to the excellent online resource and content from “think you know“.

We will of course share our learning from this session after the event, although has anyone else in #localgov done any training for foster carers and if so how did it go? I’d be very interested in hearing your views.