Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Cornwall Council's new social networking policy

Cornwall Council is at the forefront of the move by local authorities towards using social networking and other new media to communicate with residents. That's great news, but comes with a caveat - the front of a glacier still doesn't move that fast.

Quite correctly, the Council identifies the need to have two way communication with residents as being the key factor - not simply 'being on Facebook' or 'using Twitter'. It's not the particular platform that is vital - it's the motivation behind it.

That said, the Council does have a Twitter feed.

Today's Corporate Resources scrutiny committee discussed the policy and welcomed the way the Council is working in this area. There were two councillors sitting at the back of the room with laptops open, able to view the meeting papers via the internet, rather than in paper form. Three councillors were tweeting the meeting, two via laptop and one via mobile phone, and I was able to search for key documents to back up my arguments as the debate continued on the issue of office accommodation. The key problem is the lack of powerpoints in meeting rooms and the fact that Twitter went down for about ten minutes during the meeting (but that's not Cornwall Council's fault).

The danger is that there will be a heavy hand trying to limit what councillors can do with this technology, but I hope that this excellent paper can inform that debate and show that using modern communication tools can really help the council.

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