Bluelight Camp took place in Manchester recently (15th April 2012), bringing together people working in and around emergency services to talk about issues affecting them online and in social media.

It was the first event of its kind in the UK and certainly won’t be the last after creating a fantastic learning and networking experience.

Listen to Sam Thomas’s interview from the day here

As you would expect there were representatives from the police, fire and health agencies but also people there from voluntary organisations, charities and local authorities.

The event was an unconference, which means that those who attended could pitch an idea for a seminar that they wanted to lead. It was an opportunity for some people to share their own experiences and for others to get an audience willing to answer their questions.

Some of the key themes that were raised again and again during the day included:

  • Don’t wait for the emergency to happen to start using social media – you need to have an audience who knows you are there
  • Social media is a powerful way of empowering a community – engage with them rather than just push your messages
  • Take a leap of faith – try different things and see what works

The sky was the limit for the discussions that took place about how social media could be used to help emergency services. Having so many people from different backgrounds coming together to debate the issues helped develop some fantastic ideas.

These included the creation of a ‘black box’, where the public could turn to in the event of a crisis and receive information from trusted sources; and a brainstorming session about how social media could be used to reward good citizenship, through using gamification.

There were so many top tips shared in terms of resources, tools and sites worth checking out. Here were some that stood out for us:

  • http://tweetreach.com/: a great tool for analysing a tweet/hashtag and how far it travelled
  • The Surrey Police App which has both a public facing part linking to crime maps and website info and also a private area for staff to manage their Twitter activity
  • http://researchingsocialmedia.org/ – a website from Farida Vis that highlights the work she was involved in to analyse social media and the UK riots
  • http://mashable.com/ – a great place to check out the latest news about social media
  • http://www.alert.sa.gov.au/ – a website bringing together social media messages from South Australia’s emergency services via Twitter, Facebook and RSS in one place
  • Twitcident – a new system that sifts through social media updates about an emergency, and then funnels logistical information directly to first responders

For those that missed out on the event, we caught up with some of the delegates and presenters to talk about their experiences, what they thought of Bluelight Camp and get some tips for social media use. You can listen to some of those interviews and our overview of the event by clicking here.

Over the next few days, we’ll be uploading a serious of interviews with:

Sasha Taylor, Founder of Bluelight Camp
Andrew Fielding, Surrey Police
Farida Vis, University of Leicester
Christine Townsend, City of London Police
Matt Partovi, Yammer
Dan Slee, Walsall Council
David Bailey, Staffordshire Police
And Steph Gray, The Social Simulator

They not only talk about Bluelight Camp and some of the issues raised during the day but also share their own tips and experiences regarding social media.

999socialmediaBlog Courtesy of Sam Thomas, 999 Social Media (http://www.999socialmedia.com/)

The buzz around Bluelight Camp

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