Category Archives: Livestreaming

Diversification

This week I gave a very short presentation at work via video conferencing. My topic was on social media and diversification of content and platform. You can find what I said below.

Good afternoon everyone. For those of you that don’t know me my name is Neil Dewson-Smyth and I’m a Sgt working here at HQ in control room. I have been involved with force social media directly or indirectly since 2011. I’m also well known across the UK and around the world as @SgtTCS on Twitter. I was one the early police officer adopters who took to social media anonymously. From there I  trod the precarious path of talking publicly about police work. A practice that was at the time frowned upon and caused all sorts of fear in forces around the country leading to discipline matters for many officers and staff.

Times have changed. I’m no longer anonymous and whilst I am not officially endorsed by Cheshire Police I am recognised and known as a police officer on Twitter across the UK and around the world. My #DontStreamAndDrive campaign has garnered the support of forces around the country, North America and the world. Ambulance, fire & rescue services, road safety organisations and the UK Govt THINK! Team have all given it their support. This years campaign was coordinated with NPCC Road Policing Lead. I have given presentations on this road safety issue at various conferences including NRPIF, TISPOL, NDORS and Road Safety Wales. In April this year I went to Los Angeles and won the ConnectedCops Social Media Leadership award. Social media has created opportunities for me that I never envisaged and allows me, in my own way, I hope, to make a difference as a police officer.

I did have some speakers lined up for you today from across the country and from Miami in the USA. Sadly, policing demands and technology compatibility issues made it too difficult to achieve. That said I do think it’s important to hear about the journeys other people have taken from their perspective and hear their success stories. This is a far more impactive way of showing you what can be achieved than just listening to me. I hope to be able to try to do this again soon.

So as I said, forces across the country are more relaxed about social media than they ever were. In force and across the country we are starting to see some innovative content and engagement. Some of you here are already using social media for your LPU (Local Policing Unit). Some maybe not. As a consequence some of you will be more comfortable with social media than others. Some of you may be using it tentatively and some of you are creating brilliant content for Facebook and Twitter.

Slightly contrary to the brief Supt Crowcroft outlined earlier, I’m not going to tell you what to tweet and how to make Facebook posts better. That for most users is a trial and error process. You will no doubt have posted something you thought was brilliant and got very little engagement. You will also have posted something fairly mundane and got a much better response. Sometimes there appears to be no logic to what works and what doesn’t. There is no secret sauce… but the key thing is to diversify… an account full of content about community meetings, yet another recovered vehicle for no insurance and a stock ‘don’t do this’ type message, such as ‘don’t leave your windows open’, is unlikely to set the world on fire. Your content needs to be varied, engaging, serious, informative, humourous, entertaining and unique. There is so much stuff we do in the police. So much information we can share and we are barely scratching the surface. So to dig deeper we need some innovative thinking, being bold enough to try something different and acknowledging that mistakes will be made along the way.

So whilst you think about your new and fantastic content I want you to think about diversifying even further. In Force we are using Facebook and Twitter but ask yourself a question. Are these the best platforms and hitting the right audience for you? Have you identified a specific, maybe hard to reach section of your community, that you can engage with in a different way? Would that be better achieved with Instagram, Snapchat, live video or a blog? Maybe you need to be using Pinterest or Music.ly? Do you have a specific skill that you could exploit to reach a group of people? Maybe you sing or play the guitar. Maybe you run 10k’s or half marathons or can ride BMX bikes in tubes. Dare to be different. Otherwise you’re doing what we have always done and as the saying goes.. you will therefore always get the same result.

Talk to the people in your community. Identify the platforms they use and and then ask them.. “would it be useful I was on there too?” When you go to the local park to talk to youths being noisy.. don’t just clear them off … spend some time with them chatting.. ask the questions.. what social media platform are you all on? Do you have any problems? Do you see people doing foolish things that need help? Do you think it would help if we had someone on there for help and advice? You can then explore whether there is an opening for you to reach out to that group of people and provide a valuable community service.  But don’t worry about numbers of followers. If you have a new platform and only have 20 people following you it doesn’t matter. If by being there you have a positive impact upon just one of them that keeps them safe, steers them away from a predator or prevents crime… then it is without doubt an outright and unmitigated success and time well spent.

Every social media platform on the planet is available to you – if you want to use it in force you only need to ask for it but be prepared to explain why and what for. A good argument for what you want and why will likely make it happen. Just asking for it because ‘you want it’.. won’t. Corp Comms are there to support the front line but you need to be able evidence what you want and why.

As an example I would direct you to PC Mark Walsh from Hampshire police who was going to speak today. He was on Twitter and doing very well – he still is. Then when talking to young people he worked with he realised that many of them were using the platform Vine. Some forces had Vine accounts but were not using them. Mark took it upon himself to set up a Vine account. He capitalised on his own skill set, his unique sense of humour and specifically targeted a group of young people that Twitter and Facebook were missing. The result was amazing. He posted dozens of short videos… and had millions of loops. He hit his target audience but then it went further and he reached people well away from his local community of the same age group but also every other age group. He had national and international media attention.

There are two lessons to learn from Mark’s experience.

1.

Dare to be different and try something new. He came up with something that utilised his own special skill set and capitalised on that to make a real difference.

2.

The second one is about the platform. Where is Vine today? Gone. No more. Closed down. We are using Twitter and Facebook predominantly in force and they are both stalwarts of the social media world but nothing is forever. Vine disappeared very quickly. Twitter has had a number of occasions over the last few years where the social media world has been alive to the belief that Twitter is going to go. It’s still there but the point is this.. nothing lasts forever. Where would we be if Twitter and Facebook announced they were shutting down forever at the end of August? We would be scrabbling to find the replacements and build our following to keep getting our messages out there. So it’s important to be looking at and trying new and emerging platforms and whether they work for us even if that’s only a short lived case like Vine or more long term like Twitter and Facebook.

As I said earlier today hasn’t been about what to do – it’s been about asking you to look at other ways of doing things that may OR may not work for you and your LPU/Dept/Team. If you have a desire, dream or aspiration to do something different, something unique or something quirky then you need to start looking at how you can do that.

Corp Comms are there to help, advise and support the frontline in policing their community and keeping them informed. Just don’t go to them with a wish list – go to them with evidence supporting your request.

I, of course, am always available to help and advise you wherever I can.

Thank you very much

Senior Command Course

On Friday 27th January I had the privilege of presenting to the Senior Command Course at Sunningdale. This is the course for Chief Superintendents and equivalent ranks from NCA and other police agencies around the world who aspire to the NPCC ranks.

The aims of the session were to;

  1. Introduce SCC2017 to social media and how it is being used by officers and the public
  2. Explain the pitfalls
  3. Show the positive side of communicating with staff and the public through social media

I was joined on the day by Commander John Sutherland, Jay Butcher (Digital Comms Lead – Surrey Police) and a representative from the Gendarmerie Nationale Comms team.

My presentation is reproduced below.

slide1

Good morning. I’m sure many of you sat here, when you began this course, had a ‘pinch me’ moment when the reality of actually being on this course came home to you. I’d like to congratulate you all on being selected and wish you well with your future. I too am having one of those pinch me moments because never at any point in my career did I ever think I would be stood here presenting to you. I am however, very grateful for the opportunity and hope my social media journey will help you shape yours.

I would also add that I have never presented in a room where Mr Marshall is present. All I can say Sir is that if I falter at any point feel free to heckle me.

slide2

So. Who am I? My name is Neil Dewson-Smyth and I’m a Sgt with Cheshire Police. I have 26yrs service, all in uniform, covering section and 7 years roads policing with GMP. I then transferred to Cheshire and was embedded into custody where I was a custody sgt for 7 years. I now work in the Force Control Room as a Force Incident Sgt. I’m also a self-confessed social media geek. I have no discipline history to speak of and have an unblemished career. I plan to keep it that way.

I’m also a threat, a risk, a loose cannon, a maverick….  a pain in the backside.

It’s difficult to imagine how those two descriptions can morph together into one person. The reason is because I have something that has developed during my time on social media. It’s not something I have sought or gone out of my way to obtain but simply a natural consequence of my use of social media and how it has developed for policing over recent years. It is one word and it sometimes causes friction between myself, senior leadership teams and especially corporate communications.

slide3Influence. I have the ability to make things happen and that can sometimes be problematic. In order to demonstrate this I’d like to give you a quick overview of some work I have been doing with something that is a passion of mine…. the #DontStreamAndDrive campaign.

slide4If you’re wondering what I’m talking about then it would be good to explain what livestreaming is. As you can see here in the picture. The lady is holding up her phone and using the camera as though she were recording a video. Livestreaming is exactly this but the application you are using immediately pushes that video onto the internet for others to view and interact with. You are essentially running a live broadcast.

As you can imagine I saw a whole host of opportunities to use live video both personally and professionally for my force and beyond. However, as I continued to immerse myself in this world I started to see something I hadn’t considered at all.

slide5Ladies and gentlemen. May I introduce you to the ‘livestreaming driver’. As you can see here the lady on the left has her phone mounted in a cradle but she has no hands on the steering wheel at all. The chap bottom centre has the phone placed on the instrument cluster, has no hands on the steering wheel and you can see a comment at the bottom of the screen. I actually watched this one live and I can tell you he was on the M62 in West Yorkshire in shocking weather conditions. Throughout the broadcast he was complaining about the driving conditions whilst taking his hands off the wheel and reading every comment that was sent to him. The remainder all have two things in common. They are livestreaming and they all have their eyes on the phone.. NOT.. the road ahead. This is very common for drivers livestreaming. If you need to change the radio station or a setting in the car then you quickly glance at the control and then return your full attention to the road. These drivers will often display a reversal of this where their primary focus is on the phone and only glance at the road. The dangers and risks every road user is exposed to by such drivers are obvious. But… we are up against it..

slide6Thought leaders, influencers and celebrities are all engaging in this behaviour and endorsing it. Bottom left is Grant Cardone, author and motivational speaker whom I have observed to stream and drive on a number of occasions. On the right is Scottish MP Ian Murray who recorded a video whilst driving in Montreal and then posted it to Twitter. James Corden is here with Adele. Carpool Karaoke has been massively popular for him. There may be huge security precautions in place. Two vehicles in front.. two behind.. low speed. He may even be on a trailer. However, when this goes live any safety precautions are stripped away and it just shows James larking around and singing in a car with a celebrity whilst driving. The risk of copycat behaviour here is very high.

slide7All this activity led me to launch the first #DontStreamAndDrive day on April 8th last year. With the support of CC Davenport, NRPIF and my own force the campaign will be running again this year as part of the national campaign in March when the mobile phone penalty doubles.

In order for you to now see how this influence works I need to step out from this and ask if you have seen the video I set you as homework last week.

slide8Has everyone seen it? I set the homework via Twitter. (no hands show). It looks like detention for everyone then! If you haven’t seen video I would ask you to Google “Ted Start A Movement” and watch this 4 min video. You can watch here;

In the video there is one key phrase;

The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader

This behaviour by drivers is a clear and obvious danger. As I began to circulate the message it struck a chord with many of my colleagues around the country, especially roads policing officers, who began to pick up on it and support my message. This continued to grow and after a few weeks I gained the support of TISPOL , the road safety charity BRAKE , the government THINK! team and Police Professional magazine. From that point on the campaign exploded with police forces, ambulance services, fire and rescue services, community organisations and road safety groups all supporting the campaign…… influence.

slide9As you can imagine this created a number of difficulties as my activity as an individual was now influencing the behaviour of forces and other organisations around the country. As it continued to grow it led to national media coverage. I appeared on BBC Radio 4 PM programme, ran tests in the Digi-Car at TRL for a BBC magazine article and also spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live.

slide10The day went ahead and the social media reach on the day was in excess of 20 million people on Twitter alone.

slide11Post event there was further publicity. Police Professional ran a follow-up article. The Daily Mail identified drivers engaged in this behaviour and ran an article. Latterly I appeared on national breakfast television to talk about the dangers of this behaviour and the campaign.

slide12I continue to call out and challenge people on social media who engage in this behaviour. However some activity goes beyond a warning and needs a firmer response. Prosecuting is not easy but isn’t impossible.

slide13This driver was convicted on evidence I secured in a very unorthodox way, whilst at home, on a rest day and some 200 miles away from where the offence was being committed. I submitted all the evidence to the Metropolitan Police at Hounslow and a young aspiring traffic officer took on the case. The driver pleaded guilty at court.

slide14Police communications have been static for many years. We use all the traditional channels.. tv, radio and newspapers but we service them. Social media came along and every force in the country signed up to it but we really had no idea what we were doing. It took a long time for forces to understand the difference between engagement and broadcasting. Nationally we are now much improved but some forces are better than others. Many are still hanging back. There is, and always is, a long way to go but the social media world and the platforms we use change on a weekly basis and we need to be dynamic and fleet of foot to keep up with it.

There are countless platforms and it is unrealistic to expect us to be everywhere. What we should do is aim to excel where we are and be innovative in our approach and have sufficient presence that the public know where to find us.

Social media influencers around the world now market themselves as storytellers. We have a story but we have always relied on others to tell it for us. We own that story and as our social media reach increases we are becoming the trusted voice and the “go to” source for the facts. We have the ability to publish our own stories without any editorial control or spin to huge audiences.

This is a change in practice that may upset our traditional media relationships. We will need to build new relationships but we should not neglect them… not everyone is on social media after all.

Social media is a powerful tool that allows us to spread news and information, appeal for help and update and inform our communities about major incidents and we should be exploiting it.

So what can you do? Well you could get on social media yourself but only do it if it’s right for you. Do it because you want to.. not because you think you should. Otherwise, as John said earlier, it looks a bit like social media Dad dancing and that’s just a bit embarrassing. Whilst I was here last night I saw a lot of excitement and banter amongst you about follower numbers. It’s important to remember that whilst this is fun it is not about followers. Content is king and followers will come naturally as a consequence of quality content.

Embrace, support and drive social media within your organisation but you don’t have to be on social media to be a digital leader. Identify skill and talent and exploit it for the benefit of your organisation and more importantly the communities we serve.

We all make mistakes.

slide15Historically, errors on social media were seen as a huge embarrassment and engendered a real sledgehammer response. More recently things have calmed down but you need to be able to differentiate between the foolish, silly and not thought through and the deliberately reckless actions contrary to the code of ethics.

As my tutor constable said to me;

Error is the discipline through which we all advance

You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. One day in your future, sooner or later, an officer will stand before you waving a phone around and be all excited about an idea that sounds utterly crazy. Remember;

The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader

Give them their head. Let them run.. maybe join them? The results may surprise you. Break the template and dare to do things differently. YOU might be the one follower that lone nut needs to make an enormous difference.

slide16Thank you.

 

 

 

Offline

On 31st October Tomasz Kroker was sentenced to 10yrs in prison. Whilst driving along the A34 at 50mph in a truck he collided with stationary traffic. Nothing new there. Collisions happen every day right? Well this one was different in that as consequence a woman and three children tragically lost their lives. So what was the cause? How could this have happened? Kroker was scrolling through music tracks on his phone to choose his next track. With eyes off the road and mind off the road he left a trail of destruction and devastation that nobody wants to see on our roads.

On 6th September Christopher Gard was sentenced to 9yrs in prison. With 8 previous convictions for using his phone whilst driving, Gard chose to send a text message to a friend about a dog walk. Whilst doing so he lost control of his vehicle and collided with cyclist Lee Martin and killed him outright.

Just think about that for a moment. 5 lives taken over the choice of the next music track or something so important as a dog walk

Smartphones and the multitudinous apps that they can run have brought about an always on 24hr society. We can’t stand to be parted from our phones and eagerly await the next alert or notification. Somebody just replied to your Facebook post. Your tweet just got retweeted but by who.. a celebrity maybe? A new Snap from a friend, your Ebay item just got a new bid, a Whatsapp message inviting you to a party. This list goes on. Our desire to be informed, up to date and fully connected is important to us. We thrive on the pace and instancy of our online lives and take it with us wherever we go. The FOMO (fear of missing out) factor plays hard ball with us and when that notification sounds we can’t help but look. We have to know.

Whilst this is great and a product of our desire for information and connectivity this behaviour is spreading to somewhere it shouldn’t. Our cars. It’s a well established fact that driving and using a phone is illegal. In fact, in the UK it’s considered so serious the government are on the verge of increasing the penalty to £200 and 6 points yet the problem persists. If anything it may well be increasing.

People are dying on our roads every day and the involvement of a phone or mobile device is becoming more prevalent. So what can we do about it? Simple. Don’t phone and drive. Don’t text and drive. #DontStreamAndDrive. In fact, if you’re driving, don’t do anything with your phone at all. Even a hands free call is a distraction and can significantly impair your driving performance to the extent it’s equivalent to drinking and driving.

Make a promise to yourself today. Commit to never use your phone behind the wheel of a car. Keep yourself and every other road user safe from injury or death.

We live in an always on, 24hr society and we love it. Make sure you don’t love it so much it overtakes common sense and you switch from always on to permanently offline.

PokémonGO or PokémonNO?

The new game sweeping the USA and coming here soon. PokemonGO
A rehash of the old game but now the gamer has to navigate around the game in the real world by GPS location and augmented reality. 
Gamers need to be aware of their own surroundings when out in public with a phone in their hand. It will no doubt be great fun but less so if they cross a road or injure themselves because they are not looking where they are going.
Players can lay a lure to attract Pokemon. What if the lure is laid by those intent on subjecting gamers to crime? 
Those playing the game should have fun but must be situationally aware to reduce their chances of becoming victims of crime. 
Sadly, video footage already exists of gamers hunting down Pokemon whilst driving. This is no different to the issues around the #DontStreamAndDrive campaign. Distracted driving kills. In the case of the latter it can only be #PokemonNO

For @newkiddswagg

Hugely disappointed that you have blocked me on Periscope because my important message has not yet reached you. 
I’m trying to think of a way I can get your attention and help you to realise how dangerous streaming and driving is. 
I’m sure you are an honest and caring man and would not want to hurt anyone. As a man of faith (as I am) I find it increasingly difficult to reconcile your driving and scoping with a man who loves his neighbour as himself.
If your child or a family member were run down and killed by a driver who was streaming, driving, reading the comments, giving a presentation, not looking at the road ahead and regularly had no hands on the wheel for considerable lengths of time you would be rightly upset. 
You may be able, in time, to forgive but that would not bring your loved one back. How would you feel if you were the driver?
I don’t intend to spam you or troll you. I hope and pray to God that you see sense and stop this dangerous behaviour. I’m sure if you look at this clinically you know it makes sense. No matter how much fun can be had with Periscope it must not be from behind the wheel of a moving car. 
Please please #DontStreamAndDrive