Tag Archives: storify

WhatsApp: Could it help you make your community a better place to live?

As the world changes, it’s fascinating to see how public services are changing too. A few years ago, an organisational social media account was a novel thing, like when Helen Reynolds created a MySpace page for Shire Hall in Monmouth. While lots of us are still getting to grips with what social media means for the way organisations interact with communities, it’s embedded in the way that we communicate as individuals on a day to day basis.

WhatsAppIt’s probably no surprise then that there’s a lot we can learn from the people within our communities.

As budgets are shrinking, public services are being asked to do more with less. Organisations are starting to move away from the paternal role that they’ve often played in the past to enabling people to make the most of their opportunities. We shared how the Bromford Deal is doing just that as part of our Adopting Preventative Approaches Seminar last year. You can find out more about the deal in the video below.

I’ve been using WhatsApp personally for a while. I’ve been intrigued as to how it might be used to improve the way we work, but I couldn’t quite get my head round how that might happen. This Storify by Will Barker of the #nhssm Twitter Chat changed that, and I could instantly see how organisations could use it to better inform people about what they’re doing. It’s startling that in the case of the Oxford Mail, WhatsApp has a six or seven times times greater conversion rate to page views than Twitter.

Trafodaethau WhatsApp DiscussionsBy sharing that Storify, I quickly got into a conversation with Ben Black, whose street is using WhatsApp in a really interesting way. The platform gives people the chance to better connect with each other (Ben tells me there’s a fair bit of banter on the thread). It means that when the power’s gone out, there’s a quick way of checking if it affects one house or the whole street. If one resident is heading to the dump, a quick message to the group means that they can take other people’s rubbish while they’re there. When a restaurant on the street applied for licensing, it was used to send feedback from the council meeting. It’s been used to highlight issues that affect the street like potholes, or to see if people can lend or borrow equipment or even each other’s time, such as by cutting each other’s lawns.

I was just thinking about using WhatsApp to communicate with people, but Ben and his neighbours have taken it that step (or five) further and are actively using it to help make their street a better place to live.

I bet if we asked people how they felt about the public services they received, the vast majority would ask “what public services?” Through tools like WhatsApp and Streetbank, people are actually delivering some aspects of services themselves. If we spare a second to think about how we might work differently and take a lead from Ben’s street, I reckon there’s a lot we can do to improve the work we do.


Disaster recovery in action

Effective use of Information Technology

Before I moved to Cardiff a couple of years ago, Aberystwyth was my home for the best part of a decade. I used to walk past the National Library of Wales every day on my way to work and pause for a second by the building so I could check out the fantastic view of the town from there.

When a fire broke out in the Library, my friends’ social media accounts were consumed by the story, as they all worried about friends who worked there, the building itself, and resources that it holds that are treasured both locally and nationally.

Effects of fire on the National Library of Wales

A picture taken from the BBC website of the effects of the fire on the National Library of Wales

The scale of the reaction was dwarfed by the effects of the fire. When pictures emerged we were all shocked by them.

Einion Gruffudd and Owain Pritchard spoke at our IT shared learning seminar about how the Library managed to get their IT systems back online amidst all this. The fire occurred on the Friday, but amazingly computer services were up and running on the Monday, and the library was open for business as usual on the Tuesday.

Owain Pritchard speaking about the effect of the fire

There were lots of lessons to be learnt and experiences to share from Einion and Owain’s accounts. I wasn’t aware that most of the damage was caused by the water from extinguishing the fire rather than the fire itself, but incredibly data was recovered from 90% of the equipment affected. We heard how two data centres, a mesh network and virtualisation had all played a role in the system recovery.

Lots of the key messages from the session were highlighted on Twitter and can be seen on the Storify of the seminars. I highly recommend watching our interview with Einion too. Fortunately few of us ever need to put our disaster recovery systems into practice, so there’s lots for us to learn from people who’ve had to put their plans into action.

–      Dyfrig

Risky business?

Effective use of Information Technology

After every seminar we commit to getting information sent out to participants as quickly as possible so that we can make the most from the momentum gathered from the event. So last week we created a Pinterest board of our Information Technology Shared Learning Seminar, used Storify to collate social media contributions to the event, uploaded interviews with presenters on to Vimeo and we sent out emails with the outputs from the seminars.

In the North Wales seminar, there was a bit of excitement when the Auditor General for Wales encouraged attendees to take well-planned risks.

18. Risk Taking

We circulated this message by email to participants so that they could encourage improvement in their organisations.

This message isn’t just confined to IT though. The Auditor General also had this to say at our Working Across the Generations shared learning seminar:

The Wales Audit Office is hosting this seminar as part of its commitment to support knowledge exchange and bring global practices and experience to Wales. I regard promoting new and innovative approaches as fully in line with our role to provide assurance and promote improvement in public services to benefit the people of Wales. Public services have a duty to keep changing in line with the environment in which they operate and to be well-informed and responsible risk takers. I have therefore made a firm commitment to follow up the well-received work we have already done in promoting the dissemination and adaptation of good practice through an even greater emphasis on shared learning.

The role of the Good Practice Exchange is to share the Auditor General’s message along with other interesting or new approaches to public service delivery. We recognise that people are dealing with similar issues, and we want to share how an organisation has managed an issue and encourage other organisations to think about if it would work for them by adapting the approach to suit their needs.

What it means in reality that lots of the leg work will have already been done and by sharing this knowledge other organisations can benefit in a number of ways. We feel this is vital, because the most needs to be made of every opportunity in a time of diminishing resources.

It’s best to give the final word to the Auditor General himself, who reinforced this message on risk taking on Twitter at the Wales Audit Office’s External Stakeholders seminar.

Risky business?

–      Dyfrig