Live blog from the British APCO session on social media and major incidents
Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police is up first talking about his experience in the disorder in Manchester.
He feels that SMS, Blackberry and 24hr television had a greater influence on drawing people in to the city than twitter and facebook.
Social media is now a crucial tool in presenting the public face of Greater Manchester Police.
Preparing for the disorder, the force put social media resource into the control room. The aimed to be the trusted voice about what was going on. It also had a crucial role in intelligence gathering. It continues to be a useful tool in intelligence gathering.
Post disorder they use social media to encourage local groups to stand up and to take part in clean-up projects.
They ran a “Shop a looter” campaign on social media.
They use social media for campaigns: wanted and missing people, recruitment.
It continues to be a useful tool for local policing.
They have had some people overstepping the mark but staff need support and advice and he has some outstanding officers using social media.
It’s very fast moving. Need to understand it. Need to put resources into it.
Learning points: don’t underestimate the power of social media.
Make it a conversation. Empower and guide your staff.
Integrate it into all activity.
Rewrite emergency plans. NOW
Next up Richard Stokoe, Head of Communications at London Fire Brigade. He was previously Head of News at the LGA.
Highlights that the Riots Communities and Victims Panel was critical of all local public services abilities with social media.
60% of over 16 year olds use some form of social media.
He is exhorting everyone to go and play on social media, start to understand it and ask your comms department what social media success looks like.
Why haven’t your chief officers got a social media account he asks? It’s more important than newspapers.
He’s highlighting the wide range of social media platforms. Including moneysavingexpert, Moshi Monsters and Gumtree. Facebook clearer the giant though. Even so you’ve got to use the right one.
Chatting is expensive. It requires 24/7365 cover.
Likes and shares are not good enough. How many crimes are you preventing with social media? How many fires are you preventing?
For London Fire Brigade it helps reach a wider audience, rebut false rumours, and engage with many stakeholders.
And it’s hard to do it well.
Next Scott Wilcon Detective Chief Superintendent from the Metropolitan Police.
Looking at major incidents.
London has strong multi-agency contingency arrangements.
There is a London Strategic Coordination Centre but this was not used in the London Riots. It’s very big and well resourced though.
Where does social media fit around the table at Gold (SCG)?
Recommendations of the after-action review from the London Riots included review of Social Media.
Next up Bob Williams, Deputy Chief Executive at North West Ambulance Service. Looking at some of the learning from the Cumbria shootings in 2010. There was a sequence of reviews culminating in the inquest last year.
Learning: agencies need to work better together. This is a common learning point.
Difference between what the public and the media expected from the Ambulance Service and what the Ambulance Service expect their staff to do. They have changed the way they do business as a result.
After each major incident you learn something new.
Learning points included being able to mass message staff not just ambulances.
Ambulance Service was on the back foot with regard to social media. A false rumour persisted about the Service and created problems across the incident.
Have to stop thinking in press terms. Much faster, much more dynamic communication.
Social media has immense power. You need to have a plan.
This is not about the comms team. It’s about the whole organisation.
I’m going to take a break for the next bit because there’s some sensitive data going to be shared. Back in 10.
And we’re back with Superintendent Mark Payne from West Midlands Police.
Became interested in social media in 2007/8 as a DI. When access to social media sites being blocked hampered an investigation.
West Mids Police has lots of people on twitter including a police dog. It does build followers which can help when you need to get critical information out in a hurry.
He’s introducing hyperlocal blogs. I’m assuming many of you know what that is. Essentially they are very local news/campaign sites. http://openlylocal.com/hyperlocal_sites
Within his first month in Wolverhampton he invited hyperlocal blogs in to see him. And the local social landlord who have a big following on social media.
This was to build a network and establish some rapport. Do this in normality and rely on it in a major incident.
He’s introducing a case study. Being a good social media chap he’s already written this up online http://cimarkpayne.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/twitter-on-the-frontline/
As riots broke out in London Mark Payne was sending out reassurance messages and these were re-posted by trusted hyperlocal blogs.
If people hear the same thing from 3 different sources they will tend to believe them. Social media means they can hear false information from many sources very rapidly.
WV11 a hyper-local blog in Wolverhampton had over 100,000 hits over the few days of the English riots.
Not a comms role. Something for the whole organisation.
We’re moving to a panel discussion.
I asked a question about the expectations responders have about what their partners will be doing on social media. General sense that this is important. Can cause tensions between agencies. Most important that there is a common message. Mark Payne thinks that the Gold or Silver Commanders need to get a handle on this early on in an incident.
Question about where all this is going. General sense that it is important. It really is changing things but we need to negotiate new cultural norms. There may be resource implications but we have no choice. More work needed on understanding how to verify and score data coming out of social media.
Lots of private companies using twitter as a place to highlight complaints and resolve them. Concern about people reporting incidents online, how do we manage it, how do we monitor, respond and analyse.
This is a fundamental change in the way people communicate. Maybe we are moving away from call centres/control rooms? How do we get the workforce to keep up with developments. (paraphrasing Peter Fahy).
We will be playing catch up while we try to manage this through our existing policies and procedures. Police forces are in to command and control of information. This doesn’t work on social media.
Question from a self-described old person. Many times policy has been driven by the latest trend. Bobbies working the beat is surely still the key?
Older generation shows a massive increase in social media usage. Physical presence always important but GMP have found an increase in confidence as a result of their staff being engaged online.
Question. There are huge volumes of data coming in to the services. How will new rights of privacy and rights to be forgotten impact on that?
Systems, policies and procedures are not designed for this. Need new legislative frameworks or regulation? Police need to inform the debate. Organised crime uses new forms of communication, police need appropriate tactics and powers. Police need to keep respect for civil liberties and be open and accountable.
Question. Are there panels/working groups considering some of these issues and is industry plugged in (from an industry rep who has lots of people in the office with relevant expertise).
There are some working groups. There is a focus on capability around the olympics.
Need clarity on how the data are being used, stored, analysed and the governance frameworks.
Some cynicism about the degree to which central government working groups will be able to provide anything useful for local responders.
Thats all folks.
Update: I caught up with Superintendent Mark Payne afterwards: