My 10 things from BlueLightCamp

Taken from the BlueLightCamp website, please click on the image to be taken to the site

On Sunday Dave Eaton and I attended the BlueLightCamp, a gathering of people interested in innovation in the emergency services. As you might expect with a meeting of people from across ‘blue-light’ services, there was a lot to discuss – with both significant changes to emergency services and major developments in how all three emergency services are using social media on the agenda.

I thought that, rather than try to cover everything in great detail here, it might be best to just jot down 10 things of interest, in the style suggested originally by Dan Slee here, incidentally one of the BlueLightCamp attendees!

  • Police and Crime Commissioners. With elections for this new role taking place in November it wasn’t a huge surprise that there was a lot of discussion about PCCs. The event was attended not just by people from the police and police authorities (the authorities that will be superseded by PCCs) but by others who are interested in this brand-new bit of democracy, including one or two prospective PCC candidates. It wasn’t, therefore, a surprise that an excellent discussion took place – specifically about PCCs and social media, which was led by Jon Harvey, himself a prospective candidate for Thames Valley.
  • Many ideas were discussed in that session – about how social media can help the PCC candidate, and the one question which was left hanging after the session finished was ‘should police authorities be putting plans together now to run a hustings-style debates for the PCC candidates?’ You can see Jon’s blog post about the session, here.
  • Dan Slee ran a session on how to embed social media into your organisation, which led to much debate,  most agreed that the use of social media has become a revolution in the sense that these tools are available to all of us, but still there is a huge struggle for our colleagues and peers to embrace the use of it.
  • Social media tools are “enabling” technologies, so we have to stop controlling and managing what people do with these tools (within reason), but encourage and support a self-sufficient approach. In other words, we have to trust people to use social media without them seeking approval of peers.
  • It was clear from the sessions that in emergency services, more and more ‘front-line’ (police, ambulance and fire service) professionals are taking on communication roles – using social media to tell their own stories. This is good news – as it enables these officers to directly educate the public about what they’re doing – but it can also present problems. Events like BlueLightCamp can really help for us to appreciate the benefits and be mindful of some of the issues.
  • Co-production between the public and emergency services: That stuff about officers talking to the public more using social media opens up the potential for much greater ‘co-production’. This idea – that the public’s knowledge can benefit officers in their work – is already well recongised, but clearly if we can increase that contact by using social media it has the potential to increase co-production.
  • Unconferences work! People who turn up want to actualy attend events. I know this isn’t news to a growing group of people who are regular attendees – but I’m sure it will still come as a surprise to many people who aren’t familiar with the idea.
  • We’re in good hands: As an outsider (I obviously don’t work for an emergency service!) coming to an event like this is in many ways an unexpected pleasure. What I’ve taken away from the event is an overwhelming sense that there is enormous enthusiasm, energy and brains in the emergency services. Of course, an event on a Sunday attracts the most committed, but, frankly, that’s no bad thing and if the folk at home are half as passionate then that’s a very good thing.
  • I thought, given that we’re not the only people to have blogged about this, I should probably offer you a few links to other people’s thoughts. There’s also John Popham‘s Bambuser channel with lots of good videos of sessions, too…
    1. Amanda Coleman‘s blog post: Social media – it should be a daily business
    2. Rory Geoghan from Policy Exchange: My first BlueLightCamp
    3. The BlueLightCamp organisers’ take on things: They think it’s all over, it is now
    4. Here’s an interesting post from @thecustodysgt: BlueLightCamp: Several firsts
    5. Observations from Howie over at Microsoft UK: Highlights from BlueLightCamp
  • One last thing… We’ve collected the tweets for the two hashtags we know were being used throughout the events yesterday. I’m sure there’ll be more, but it seemed a good way to contribute a very small amount to the energy and enthusiasm that BlueLightCamp has generated. (These are raw CSV files – essentially a dump of all the tweets we could find from the Twitter API made early on Tuesday. There’ll be tweets after this that aren’t here, obviously.)
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