On 10 and 11 May 2014, Ordnance Survey are hosting BlueLightCamp at their Southampton head office. The unconference and hackathon for blue light services is in its third year. The event see attendees bring challenges they’d like help overcoming, ideas they’d like to explore, and many bring along their skills and expertise to help others. Christine Townsend from MusterPoint, tells us about her BlueLightCamp experience.
The first BlueLightCamp in 2012 was my first experience of an unconference and a hackathon. As part of my background in police communication, and with the ever-increasing need to use social media, I wanted to see what it was about and if it could benefit my role in any way.
What I discovered was a room full of people who thought like me, worked in a public sector environment and felt that there could be a better way to share ideas and solve problems around data and technology.
The beauty of the BlueLightCamp is that it makes what seems incongruous totally achievable. I’ve written before about the awkward relationship between the public sector and innovation, but now I believe this is changing and that this is happening because of events like BlueLightCamp.
MusterPoint came about because BlueLightCamp gave me the confidence to believe that there was a place for it.
Meeting other like-minded individuals helped me to feel I wasn’t on my own and that if I was to just give it a go, there would be a supportive peer group to give me feedback and encouragement.
What happened was the creation of a social media management platform for the emergency services, cat 1 and 2 responders and the public sector. Combined with support from Surrey Police, I was able to develop something that has now become a going concern that serves a number of agencies.
It’s been a very tough journey, but one I don’t regret – it’s amazing what can come out of spending time with people who are passionate about what they do and seeing MusterPoint help agencies manage social media in major incidents has been intensely satisfying.
BlueLightCamp fosters an environment of idea sharing without feeling like you are being judged or measured – if the idea doesn’t have legs, it doesn’t go anywhere, but there are plenty more to get involved in. I believe it has changed the way we view how we need to work in the public sector and I’ve met some wonderful people and formed some incredibly beneficial alliances.
I would encourage anyone who has an interest in or passion for solving problems to attend BlueLightCamp. If you want to have some fun, meet new people and explore ideas then it is the perfect place to do so. It turns the idea of the run of the mill conference on its head and leaves you thinking differently about things. Who knows what might come out of it?
If Christine’s experience has inspired you to attend, find out more on the BlueLightCamp blog.