Social Media for Emergency Planning & Resilience

A quick plug of this great workshop being delivered through the Public Sector Web Network (about which I will shortly have some very exciting news!).

Social Media for Emergency Planning & Resilience

Thursday 22nd September 2011, Park Plaza Hotel, Leeds

This workshop is aimed at all Category 1 Responders as identified in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 which includes the usual “blue-light” emergency services as well as others:

  • Police forces, including the British Transport Police
  • Fire services
  • Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom
  • HM Coastguard
  • Local authorities
  • Port Health Authorities
  • Primary Care Trusts, Acute Trusts, Foundation Trusts (and Welsh equivalents), Health Protection Agency
  • Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency

A category one responder or other organisation planning for major incidents should:

  • have the capacity to process between 3,000-20,000 items of social media traffic per day during the response phase of an emergency *routinely monitor social media for operational data and potentially for triggers for emergency response
  • understand the potential of the global online community in emergency response
  • understand the implications of online culture in managing an emergency.

This workshop will help attendees to not only maximise the benefit of situational intelligence but also manage social media flows robustly and warn and inform the public effectively.

Please contact Nick Hill at to reserve a delegate place!

Workshop Facilitator: Ben Proctor 

Ben has a background in Public Relations, Information Technology and Emergency Planning. In 2008 he saw that emergency response and crisis communications were going to be strongly affected by developments in mobile and online technology so he set up Likeaword to become a centre of expertise in digital skills for emergencies. Ben is based in Shropshire, UK but works across the country with category one responders and other organisations looking to manage their response to emergencies. He works with emergency planning and business continuity professionals as well as with corporate communication specialists.


1 Welcome and introduction

2 Check we’re all on the same page

  • quick summary of civil contingency arrangements, the roles and responsibilities of responders and individuals within responders
  • quick round up of social media, related online technology, and relevant mobile technology
  • introduce an emergency scenarios to be explored during the day as a desktop exercise

3 Use of social media for warning and informing the public

Social media offers responders a simple, low cost broadcast medium and many responders have begun to use it in this way

  • case studies of effective uses of the technology
  • discussion on strengths and weaknesses of the technology and the risks inherent in its use including discussion of the implications of power and telecoms failure
  • discussion on how social media for warning and informing can be integrated into emergency plans
  • run desktop exercise to examine how social media for warning and informing could be introduced into management


4 Managing feedback in the social media space

Social media allows all individuals and organisations access to the same simple, low-cost broadcast medium. Individuals may ask for clarification, they may challenge or may spread rumours or contrary information.

  • case studies of effective uses of the technology
  • discussion on strengths, weaknesses and risks of various approaches (passive, reactive, proactive)
  • discussion on integration into emergency plans
  • discussion on the training and exercising implications of effective management of feedback
  • re-run desktop exercise with new injects to model social media feedback

5 Working with the online community

Social media and online technology gives responders potential access to a worldwide community of relevant skills. This section will introduce the topic.

  • case studies and examples of interesting and effective community engagement in emergencies (and independet community response)
  • discussion on the implications for responders

6 Wrap up

  • re-cap over the day’s learning
  • opportunity to cover points that may have been missed
  • some suggestions for further reading and discussion

Park Plaza Hotel
Boar Lane, City Square
Map and Directions

Start Time: 9:30 am
End Time: 4:30 pm

Price: £200.00 + £40.00 Surcharge

Please contact Nick Hill at to reserve a delegate place!

The Learning Pool Community Day – 14 September

I’ll be joining my good friends at Learning Pool on the 14th September in celebrating their Community Day – where the UK’s biggest public sector online learning community will be coming to life.

The packed agenda features plenty of reasons to sign up for a place, if you haven’t already.

Keynote presentations from Dr Andrew Learner of iESE and Dean Shoesmith, President of the PPMA are followed by interactive seminars on topics as diverse as engaging people with e-learning, measuring return on investment and making the best use of emerging technology (I’m helping out with that one).

The day will be rounded off with the Learning Pool Customer of the Year Awards, which are always good fun – and I’m sure the party will carry on afterwards too.

Five more reasons to attend:

  1. Cement relationships
  2. Get ideas for your own practical initiatives
  3. Hear about best practice and benchmark with your peers
  4. Receive free expert guidance and useful tips
  5. Take away strategies you can implement immediately

So, with just a handful of places left, sign up now!

“Kids today need a licence to tinker”

Nice article by John Naughton on the state of IT education in schools:

What is happening is that the national curriculum’s worthy aspirations to educate pupils about ICT are transmuted at the chalkface into teaching kids to use Microsoft software. Our children are mostly getting ICT training rather than ICT education.

And if you can’t see the difference, try this simple thought-experiment: replace “ICT” with “sex” and see which you’d prefer in that context: education or training?

How we got to this ridiculous state of affairs is a long story. It’s partly about how education departments, like generals, are always preparing for the last war. Thus, while we’re moving into a post-PC age, our ICT curriculum is firmly rooted in the desktop computer running Microsoft Windows. It’s also partly about the technophobia of teachers, local councillors and officials. But it’s mainly about the chronic mismatch between the glacial pace of curriculum change in a print-based culture, and the rate of change in the technology.

Consumer IT Resets the Baseline for Corporate IT

Good stuff from Michael Coté:

In moving to a BigCo job you quickly notice how different life behind the firewall is when it comes to IT. You’re often more limited than empowered. The advances in consumer IT (things like Facebook and GMail) often have created better IT than corporations provide their employees. For well over a decade, corporate IT has been chasing the old mandate of risk management through hyper-control. In the meantime, consumer IT has shot past the old bulwark of the IT department when it comes to ease of use, functionality innovations, and the resulting leaps in productivity. Consumer IT has set a new baseline for what knowledge workers need to be most effective and most corporate IT has fallen well below that line.

Who retweeted you?

I didn’t know you could do this. Maybe you don’t either, so I’ll share it.

How do you find out which of your tweets have been retweeted, and by who? Turns out, by looking on the Twitter website!

First, go to and log in. Then click the little ‘Retweets’ tab just under the updates box. Should look a little like this:

Retweet tab

Click on ‘Your Tweets, retweeted’, as per the arrow.

You’ll see a list of all your tweets that others have retweeted. Cool!

If you then hover over one, and click, a detail pane should pop up, giving info on exactly who retweeted you. Click the image below to make it bigger, if you need to.

Retweet details

So now you know.

Local TV

I think it’s fair to say that DCMS’s plans for Local TV are mostly terrible.

Luckily, people who know a lot more about it that I do are writing it all up. I enjoyed these three posts on the LSE blog on the subject, all by Sally Broughton Micova.

They are well worth reading for anyone interested in local media.

Local TV Part 1: A Tale of Two Cities

The DCMS’s framework document states that “market experience suggests that small standalone local TV stations can struggle to develop s sustainable business model”. However, the Government’s plan is to issue individual local licenses and then leave it up to the market to determine if local stations give it a go alone or come together in a network. This means anyone interested in opening local television and broadcasting through DTT in Birmingham will have to individually negotiate with whoever might be interested in Hereford, Grimsby, or any of the other 60 plus locations. News Corporation, which owns a large number of local TV stations in the US and controls two of those in Birmingham Alabama, has other problems at the moment, so it seems unlikely it will be interested in applying for a multitude of individual local licenses in the UK. It is not clear how a backbone of sufficient size and capacity to adequately support local TV across the UK will spontaneously emerge from the negotiations of a few enthusiastic local parties.

Local TV Part 2: Great Expectations

One of the ways the Government’s plan intends to provide financial support to local TV is by having the BBC spend up to £5 million annually for 3 years to buy content from local stations. At the local TV summit Hunt also suggested that local TV will be selling content to other national stations. This is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, £5 million divided among several stations will amount to very little in relation to the budgets required to make high quality content. Secondly, local stations will have to produce content that national stations will want to buy. Consider the plea from Shameless’ Paul Abbott for British producers and commissioners to try making television drama at a cheaper cost of only £500,000 per episode. Or, that national stations in the UK are currently spending their budgets procuring high quality production from independent producers and hit series from the US.

Local TV Part 3: Don’t start linear

The proposal, to use the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform and create linear television stations across the UK, is already old fashioned enough. It is admirable to invest in local media, but new technology allows more innovative and more sustainable ways of doing it. Putting local TV onto DTT multiplexes (MUXs), even in a first stage as the Government proposes, is an unnecessary investment, and one that sets local television off on the wrong foot in terms of both sustainability and purpose.

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.

Thoughts on Google+

Having been playing with Google+ for a while, I’m starting to get to grips with things. I’m seeing it as a place to talk geeky stuff, where I won’t bore the large group of people I am friends with on Facebook who aren’t obsessed by the internet. Twitter remains my default place to share stuff online though. A few things have occurred to me that would improve the service:

1. Let me sort out my Google identity crisis

A few others have made this point – most consistently, Dan Harrison – but those of us that use Google to host our email using our own domains (ie my email address is set up using Google services, and thus is a ‘Google Account’ in its own right) can be in a bit of a pickle.

Luckily I’m not the position that Paul Clarke found himself in, as I’ve always used a vanilla Gmail account for most of my interactions with Google. But it would be nice that those of us who are actually paying for the Google service get as full an experience as those using free accounts.

2. Find a way of making circles quicker

It’s got some lovely little visual tricks, but the circles interface just takes too long to organise. It’s also something that you can only get right after having used the service for a while – ie once you’ve already got hundreds of people in your circles and it’s too much of a pain to fix.

In other words, circles has got the technology pretty right, but the process isn’t great and Google needs to find a way of speeding it up.

3. Make better use of my other streams: email, docs, Reader

It strikes me that Google has a bunch of my other content and information that it could be making use of within the Google+ interface. After all, through Reader it knows what my favourite websites are, and which I pay most attention to. With Docs it knows who I probably work with, because I share documents with them.

It would be great if G+ became my Google service dashboard, where I can access all my own Google-stored data but also all the stuff shared by the people I know.

4. There is a distinction between +1ing something and sharing it, but it isn’t that pronounced

I guess the comparison to Twitter is that +1ing an item is like marking it as a favourite; and sharing is like retweeting. But Twitter is a very different beast to G+ and I’m often left wondering whether I should share, or +1 a bit of content. In the end, I usually don’t bother to do either.

5. Why on earth hasn’t Google killed off Buzz? It’s another potential confusion

Not much more to be said. Buzz was Google’s previous effort at doing something like Twitter… and not only have they not killed it off, they even include a user’s Buzz updates as a tab in their Google+ profiles. I don’t know why this is there as it appears to be a confusing duplication of effort and features.

Maybe all I want is FriendFeed?

Whilst I was thinking about all this, it made me wonder whether the grand sharing tool I seem to want Google+ to be might in fact exist, in the form of FriendFeed, the forgotten social sharing site bought by Facebook a few years ago.

I went and took a look, and lo! FriendFeed still seems to be running, albeit without much love. Here’s mine.

If you’re new to the site, it enables you to pull all your social content into one place (tweets, bookmarks, blogposts, Facebook statuses, shared Google Reader items, etc etc) and subscribe to other people’s feeds.

One downside to this is a bit of duplication (ie, if I post something on my blog, and then tweet a link to it, it’ll appear twice in my FriendFeed) – but that’s easy enough to overlook.

So I do wonder if, for Google+ to have something that sets it apart, looking back to FriendFeed might be a good idea.

What I’ve been reading

I find this stuff so that you don’t have to.

You can find all my bookmarks on Pinboard.