you want sprinkles with that govcamp?

Just made some more tickets available for Scotgovcamp 2013:

Whether you’re coming or not, would welcome your thoughts about how the day should go…

ScotGovCamp 2013

UKGovcamp supremo, Mr Steph Gray has hung up his govcamp clipboard* and hoodie. Sad, but understandable. It’s quite a lot of work, you know, un- organising unconferences?!

The news has prompted a bit of discussion about how UKGovcamp can be improved for 2014. If, indeed, it can be improved. Lloyd Davis (master of ceremonies at UKGovcamp in recent years) has a brilliant post on his blog. And regular govcamper, Stefan Czerniawski, has also written a great post. The discussion continues on the Google Group set up by James Cattell.

I’ve been watching with interest – not least to see if we can pinch any of the good ideas they come up with ;). One of the great things about unconferences is that you can tinker with the format right up to the last minute. Another great thing about unconferences is that no-one ‘owns’ them, so everyone can help improve them! Scotgovcamp 2013 is still very ‘tinkerable’.

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Back and better than ever

Early bird tickets all snapped up! There will be further releases in the coming weeks, so if you’ve missed out, get on the waiting list!

ScotGovCamp 2013

And we’re back. ScotGovCamp 2013 is set to knock your socks off with involvement from people in more disciplines and discussions happening in a climate of real excitement about developing digital public services.

Save the date and book your ticket: Saturday September 14th at Informatics, University of Edinburgh. Keep your eyes on this blog for all the updates and news.


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ScotGovCamp returns

For a wee while now I’ve been pondering dragging ScotGovCamp down out of the attic.

I wasn’t convinced there would be enough interest though. We had 100 people at the first ScotGovCamp in Edinburgh in 2010, but despite the hard work of Ian Watt, there wasn’t the turnout at the second in Aberdeen in 2011 that we’d have liked. We then had a govcamp that wasn’t a govcamp, but let’s not go into that here ;).

I also wondered if we prefer to be ‘doing’ rather than ‘talking’ this side of the border – and it’s been great to see so many hack and jam events in Scotland recently.

But – and nicely illustrating why it is important sometimes to ‘just’ talk – conversations with some lovely people (most recently, the one woman force of nature that is Leah Lockhart) have convinced me that, actually, there is interest.

people talking at ScotGovCamp 2010

people talking at ScotGovCamp 2010 – photo courtesy of Mr James @prettysimple Coltham

So, ScotGovCamp 2013 is well and truely on!  And thanks to Mr Ewan Klein we’ll be returning to where it all began back in 2010, the awesome space that is Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.

So, pop 14 September in your diary and watch this space (or #scotgc13 on Twitter) for updates and ticket availability.

One final thing. I subscribe to the Steph Gray and Dave Briggs school of thought on running govcamps – ie don’t mess with a winning formula – so this will be a govcamp, and only a govcamp. If anyone wants to organise related/fringe/concurrent events (hacks, jams, whatever) they are very welcome to do so.

Oh, one final, final thing. As with all govcamps, this one will be free to attend. Which means it will be funded by lovely sponsors. There’s some money in the kitty already, but we could always do with more. And, of course, offers of other kinds of help and support also gratefully received!

‘Doing’ social media: Be brave. Be honest. Be human.

I spent last Wednesday in the rather swish surroundings of the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow* at a (free) conference run by the Scottish Health Council (SHC) on ‘eparticipation and the NHS’. The event was billed as an “opportunity for staff in the NHS and other sectors to share their experiences and learn from each other in relation to using social media to develop relationships and dialogue with communities and how to use feedback from patients and communities to improve services“. 

The presentations and workshops were filmed, so I guess they’ll be on the Scottish Health Council website at some point.

Delegates were also asked to give their thoughts about the day in a ‘diary room’ and to list their “hope for social media use in the NHS for 2013“. These will also be shared online. In the meantime, Kenny MacDonald (@marcommskenny) has beaten me to the first blog post about the event. And Ian Watson (@iandubya) has done some Storifying of the tweets (hashtag #SHCevent). And here – with a little help from the event tweeters – are some thoughts from moi…

After the introductions (and ubiqutious tech problems!), we started the day with a very honest, human and brave session from Michael Seres (@mjseres), who’d travelled quite a distance to share his experiences of using social media as a patient. After coping for many years with Crohn’s Disease and then intestinal failure, Michael underwent a small bowel transplant. The blog Michael uses to document his experiences has proved to be a well used resource for information and support to people with similar health issues. He mentioned how he was able to help someone in Elgin with similar problems (who contacted him via his blog) get a consultation that he wasn’t able to get via his own health service. And Michael’s own medical team have found the blog really useful in tracking his progress.

One of the most striking images I’ve seen for some time was Michael’s photograph of his stoma, which he has pinned on Pinterest (probably best not click if you’re a bit squeamish). The picture has had a lot of comments. That’s a whole new use of Pinterest for me. I’ve only really thought about it as a place for pretty things. But it’s obviously so much more than that.

Michael talked about the balance of power shifting from one of ‘medical professional always knows best’ to a more equal relationship where patients want to be actively involved in their own healthcare. It’s not about ranting or moaning – it’s about truly engaging in healthcare. Social media “gives patients a seat at the table“.

In that one presentation, Michael neatly encapsulated my three major themes of the day.

Be brave

The next speaker, Ros Moore, the Scottish Government’s Chief Nursing Officer, who got a great reaction. Ros made the point that debating whether or not to use social media is bit like debating gravity. Her message was along the lines of: ‘it’s here; use it; be brave!’ (emphasising that final point with a Merida slide) Ros also made it clear that the integration of health and social care will need consistent use of social media by practitioners, patients and the public; and she urged us to ‘up the pace’.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much of a social media profile for Ros. Which is a shame. For me, if you’re advocating the use of social media, then you have to be actively involved in using it yourself or your message lacks authenticity. Perhaps that’s something our new Health Comms Manager can rectify when he joins us (alas, I cannot yet reveal his identity, but I suspect he will be reading this).

Next up was Gary McGrow (@garymcgrow), a researcher at the SHC. Gary has been looking at trends in social media and healthcare and, in particular, at social media use in the NHS in Scotland over the last year or so. He threw some stats at us.

So, the numbers – and this was mostly about numbers, rather than qualitative evaluation – would certainly indicate that there’s been progress. Although, obviously, there’s still room for improvement. 

When asked about how we deal with the reality of most staff being blocked from accessing social media, Gary advocated the #jfdi approach. Ha, a man after my own heart!

The next two presentations looked at examples of NHS eparticipation websites:

  • ‘Your NHS Tayside’ – presented by Allyson Angus and Laura Nixon (couldn’t find either on Twitter).
  • And Sharon Hammell and Mark Bargon (again, couldn’t find either on Twitter) talked about how the Scottish Ambulance Service has developed this approach with (which has been built in-house, I believe). 

I must admit I zoned out a bit at this point. Partly because the technology refused to play ball again when the presenters were attempting live demos of their sites, disrupting the flow. I did pick up one useful point from the Ambulance Service presentation about the importance of ensuring processes (people and technology) are in place for dealing with feedback.

The first of my three workshops of the day (selected from a choice of about 12) was with the SHC’s Information Officer, Richard McCrea (@McCreaRichard) and Sandra McDougall, Head of Policy (not on Twitter, as far as I can tell). The workshop was an opportunity to have a look at the SHC’s draft social media guidance – the aim of which is to help boards make better use of social media to inform, engage and consult communities during periods of major service change. This will be available online. But if you want a look now, I’m sure Richard would be happy to send you a copy if you ask nicely. Richard is looking for examples of NHS social media use – get in touch if you have some!

Honesty is the best policy

Maimie Thompson (@NHSHMT) was the ideal speaker for the always tricky ‘just after lunch’ spot. Engaging, funny and refreshingly honest, Maimie, who is Head of PR and Engagement at NHS Highland, told us the story of how came to be.

NHS Highland took a bit of a battering in the press last year for a range of reasons. Maimie’s response to this was to tackle it head on and she saw a way to use Twitter to enable patients, journalists and the wider public to hear directly from NHS Highland staff – in their own words – who they are, what they do on a day-to-day basis. Thereby getting an insight into the demands of their roles. So, every week the tweets on the  account come from a different member of staff.

Great for public engagement. And also great for staff engagement. 

I think Maimie may have attended the Gordon Scobbie (@DCCTayside) school of staff management.

They’ve taken a bit of stick for it, of course. But Maimie is clear that the positives far outweigh the negatives. [See the previous post on this blog for a similar example of the public sector taking a bit of a (calculated) risk with social media; getting stick for it; and dealing with it].

Oh, the humanity

After Maimie’s presentation, I went along to Graham Budd (@thebuddster) and Satvinder Kaur’s (@saty_kaur) session on ‘engaging communities (and neighbourhoods) using social media’. I’d seen Graham present on this before – indeed he spoke at the first Scottish Public Sector Digital Group event. But it was good to get an update and also to meet Saty! Graham’s presentations on Slideshare are worth checking out.

The overriding message I picked up from this session was the value of putting a human face on service delivery.

There was an interesting discussion after the session about who should be using social media in organisations and what support they need – something that Graham and Saty have got well covered.  

My final session of the day was with Gillian Dick (@gilliandick) founder of Gillian provided some practical tips on monitoring and evaluating social media campaigns.

A separate blog post on that I think, ‘return on energy’ needs further thought. Probably after UKGovcamp, cos there’s a session on evaluation planned for that.

What now?

Kenny mentions in his post that we should not only “be consistent within [my emphasis] each organisation but consistent in both how we share research about Scotland’s digital habits as well as the parameters or standards of measurement that we in the public sector adhere to.” One place where that is already happening is here, in the Scottish Public Sector Digital Group – we’re for anyone interested in any aspect of digital in any bit of the public sector (including health services) in Scotland. Come join us. We’re nice.


* I see Itison have a good offer on at the moment if you want to check it out for yourself… [I’m not on commission btw!]

Recipe for success…how to cook up a day of public sector digital goodness

Unconference agendaServes: 16431+

Preparation time: as long as it takes

Cooking time: a day or so


60+ digi types (a high quality mix from 14 local authorities and
16 public sector organisations)
4 inspirational speakers
1 very helpful sponsor
several pints of coffee
2 great venues
1 flipchart
limitless sticky notes
smartphones, Macs, netbooks and iPads
whatever social media sites you have to hand
many, many teacakes


Place the digi types in the first venue, fill with coffee and then slowly add the inspirational speakers.

Simmer for a bit, then allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes.

Remove the digi types and place in the second venue.

Carefully place the sticky notes onto the flip chart (using the picture above as a guide).

Stuff the digi types with teacakes, add the wifi to the mix and fold in the Macs, netbooks, smartphones and iPads. Sprinkle on the social media sites.

Separate the mixture into 3 separate rooms.

Allow the mixture to rise. Remove after 45 minutes and stir.

Repeat twice more.

Serve chilled.

Optional step: add alcohol to the digi types and flambé.

And hey presto! A day of questioning, listening, knowledge sharing, planning, plotting, idea forming, contact making, and more!

Tweet Reach results for the Twitter hashtag #spsdg

I love it when a plan comes together

The Scottish public sector digital event of the year is only a few days away now and plans are all coming along nicely. The timetable for the morning is pretty much finalised as you’ll see below, and we’ve already had some good suggestions for the afternoon discussion sessions.

1. Timetable

Morning presentations @ ECC Business Centre, City Chambers
Introductions, etc Sally Kerr 0930 – 0940
Squiz introduction Squiz 0940 – 1000
Direct Scot Dave Hall 1000 – 1030
Customer Experience Hilary Coyne 1030 1100
Coffee 1100 – 1115
Open Data Ian Watt 1115 – 1145
Social Media Graham Budd 1145 – 1215
Lunch 1215 – 1300
Afternoon unconference @ Squiz offices, 57-59, The Royal Mile
Agenda setting Lesley Thomson 1300 – 1315
Session 1 1315 – 1400
Session 2 1400 – 1445
Coffee 1445 – 1500
Session 3 1500 – 1545
Wrap up Lesley Thomson 1545 – 1600

2. Afternoon topics

Suggested topics so far include:

  • social media and records management
  • the EU Cookie Directive
  • social media policies

We have space for at least nine different sessions in the afternoon – so there’s still time to suggest a topic if there’s something you want to raise/discuss. If you do have a topic you want adding to the afternoon agenda, you can suggest it here as a comment on this post. Or you can tweet it using the hashtag #spsdg. Or, go old skool and send us an email! There will also be time before we kick off in the afternoon to suggest topics.

See you there!

We’re back! Bigger, better, bolder!

The Scottish Webteams Forum was created in 2004 to provide a Scotland-wide platform for public sector webteams to discuss issues and developments, share knowledge and consider partnership working opportunities.

After a short hiatus, the Forum is delighted to be back on the scene with an exciting (and free!) day of talks and discussion. The approach to seminars and conferences has changed in our absence so we’re adapting our format to suit!

[NB. You’ll see we’ve also had a name change – we’re now the Scottish Public Sector Digital Group to reflect a slightly enhanced remit.]

Morning session (0930 – 1215)

So, come and join us at the City Chambers, where we’ll hear about

  • Direct Scot’s prototype findings
  • Aberdeen’s experience of implementing an open data approach
  • the key role that customer experience played in delivering Edinburgh’s 4 Star SOCITM site for 2011
  • some exciting social media stuff happening in Edinburgh

Afternoon session (1315 – 1615)

The event is sponsored by web solutions company Squiz, and we’ll decant to their lovely offices just up the road for an afternoon of ‘user generated content’! Rather than try to guess what you want to hear about, we’re giving you the opportunity to set the agenda for the afternoon. Anyone can suggest any topic (within reason!) for discussion sessions. There’ll be opportunities to suggest session topics before the event, and also on the day itself.

What now?

>>  Don’t hold off signing up, as places are limited. If you do sign up and later find out you can’t make it, that’s fine, just let us know.

>>  Have a think about topics you might want to discuss during the afternoon session.

>>  Keep an eye on our new site as we’ll be adding more information as the day develops (including ways to suggest session topics).

>>  And you might want to keep an eye on #SPSDG if you’re a Twitterer.