Overcoming the hurdles: public sector engagement and social media

This is a great list doing the rounds of the hurdles that public sector organisations face when trying to take on board the opportunities of social media.  I see this every day, and this initial analysis will go a long way to helping us help people confront the institutional prejudice that exists within our organisations.

Overcoming the Hurdles

There are many small hurdles to effective use of social media and technology in public services. In democratic engagement and participation; communications and outreach; education; or just about any other area of work – the same soluble barriers hold up action.

This wiki builds upon this blog post and offers a space to share learning about how to overcome the many small hurdles.

Select any of the Hurdles listed below to add your comments, insights and experiences on how they affect the uptake of social technologies, or how they can be overcome.

Internet Access

1. Access to Web 2.0 sites is blocked or filtered;

2. Requesting that a website is unblocked requires a form to be filled in and the request may not be actioned for 24 hours or more;

3. A site that has previously been unblocked is suddenly blocked again;

4. A site is only unblocked for the computer a staff member usually sits at – and they are unable to access Web 2.0 Sites from another part of the office or another desk;

5. Web 2.0 Sites can only be accessed during lunch hours;

6. Managers see abuse of ICT resources as an ICT issue rather than a management issue;

7. ict staff see access to Web 2.0 sites as an issue for ICT decision making rather than for team leaders and managers;

8. There is no capacity to provide staff with internet-enabled mobile phones even if a business case can be made;

9. Staff are not aware of the ict internet access and mobile phone/internet access resources they can legitimately ask for;

10. Permission to use Web 2.0 is granted ad-hoc but not enshrined in policy so a change in ICT manager could make access more difficult;

Office Technology

11. Computer only have out-of-date Internet Browsers (E.g. IE6);

12. Staff cannot change their browsers home-page;

13. Staff cannot install browser plug-ins or add-ons and key plug-ins like Flash are out-of-date versions;

14. E-mail sign-up confirmations from Web 2.0 sites regularly get caught in spam filters;

15. Staff cannot install desktop widgets and utility software (e.g. Twitter clients RSS readers etc.) Many widgets have regular updates that staff cannot install themselves. So even if IT install the widget once, it soon needs a new install;

16. Office computers have no ability to play sound;

17. There is no easy way to get a photo onto an office computer. For example a personal photo to use as a profile picture online;

18. Any customisations staff add to their computer log-in are regularly lost;

19. There is no WiFi in meeting rooms and guests cannot get access to the internet in the building;

20. There is a one-size fits all IT policy;

Systems and Procedures

21. There are no finance procedures or company credit cards to pay for low-cost online subscription services;

22. There are no systems in place for backing up content from Web 2.0 tools;

23. There is no secure password vault that can be used to keep track of ‘corporate’ memberships of Web 2.0 sites;

24. There is no agreed way of notifying other staff members of plans for using Web 2.0 tools;

25. There are no policies or procedures for responding to positive or negative online comments;

26. There is no processes for carrying out CRB or Independent Safeguarding Authority checks on staff or sub-contractors involved in the use of Social Media to engage with young people or vulnerable adults;

Policy and Guidance

27. There are no policies on personal use of Social Networks and Social Media sites;

28. There is no accessible guidance available to staff on personal use of Social Networks and Social Media sites;

29. There is no policy on Safeguarding and Child Protection in digital environments;

30. There is no policy on Data Protection in digital environments – and no guidance on items of data which should not be shared in digital environments;

31. There are no policies on appropriate levels for official staff engagement with Web 2.0

32. Consent forms and model release forms make no mention of possibly sharing photos or videos from events and activities online;

Organisational Culture

33. Senior managers see Web 2.0 and the Social Web as something to be scared of;

34. Senior managers see Web 2.0 as a passing fad or at best a persistent distraction and minority interest;

35. Staff see Web 2.0 as an extra burden to add to already busy and pressured days;

36. Ideas from outside the organisations are treated with suspicion;

37. The organisation wants to be in control of any discussions that take place about it online;

38. The organisation wants to moderate every discussion that it is any way responsible to convening or starting;

39. The organisation wants to put it’s brand front-and-centre in every online engagement;

40. Service-user engagement is not valued;

Technical Skills

41. Staff have never received basic training in how a web browser web addresses and search engines work;

42. Staff are not aware of tabbed web-browsing;

43. Staff do not make use of search tools;

44. Staff find it difficult to adapt to and remember new ways of working digitally;

45. Staff are not able to download edit and upload images in web formats;

46. Staff do not know how to install new utility software or browser plug-ins;

47. Staff have no opportunities to share skills and develop their understanding of digital environments;

Leadership and Management

48. Managers do not support staff exploration and experimentation with Web 2.0;

49. Managers take no ownership over exploration and experimentation with Web 2.0 and provide no support to their staff;

50. Managers react to initial teething problems with Web 2.0 engagement by shutting it all down and banning further exploration of the potential;

This list originated on Tim’s Blog and now resides on the wiki at  http://www.practicalparticipation.co.uk/wiki/socialstrategy:start

Thanks to @AndrewPWilson and @levyj413 for bringing this to my attention.

2 thoughts on “Overcoming the hurdles: public sector engagement and social media”

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