The Appliance of Social Media Science

Stop Press:Mobile phone coverage breakthrough in Shropshire


Having attended and now reflected on the recent Shropcamp I’m left pondering the issue of not-spots and thin-band. The lack of 3G coverage, wi-fi access and broadband in a rural county the size of Shropshire is a pressing issue and one that needs to be addressed. A national grid for mobile phone coverage would be the ideal solution but it ‘aint happening any time soon. 3G in particular is going to be a concern for projects like Discover Shropshire but there’s enough coverage in key places to allow us to demonstrate proof of concept. And actually I’m increasingly of the mind that hurdles like these will never be broken down until we achieve critical mass behind a consensus to fix them. And that can only be achieved by more and more people demonstrating that new working practices are beneficial and practical rather than left-field or kooky. We’ve all met people who ‘just don’t get it’ but if we wait for them to be converted before we progress we’ll be gathering dust in the starting blocks. There’s probably a strong religious or idealogical analogy to be made there but excuse me if I steer well clear. It’s grass roots activism that will move us forward. social media surgeries and business networking like JellyUK are as vital in sparsely populated counties like Shropshire as they are in the metropolis, perhaps even more so.

If we are to keep up the momentum of Shropcamp the next stage is surely to persuade the policy makers and senior directors of the public sector to attend and see the potential. Hot on our heels is Generation Digital. Digital is their first language and social media their lifeblood. They will demand that we speak to them in terms they understand and on forums of their choosing. If the democratic process is to thrive and survive it needs buy-in from them, so we better start preparing like, right now. I know I’m preaching to the choir here but it’s helpful to not lose sight of what we’ve learned so far. It’s not the tools or the shiny things it’s the outcomes. We have to concentrate on showing positive outcomes. The only way to win converts is to demonstrate the appliance of social media science. One slightly used soap box, anyone?

#shropcamp was organised by Ben Proctor with a little help from his friends and sponsors


1 Comment

  1. I’m glad that you have raised this one Jon it’s pretty fundemental and it’s particularly rural. In Shropshire the frustrations of the not spots and grot spots are surfacing again – quite rightly so – as The Council publicises its decision to join the second wave of BDUK funded projects. Problematically this is a political initiative being driven by members and delivered by officers. In days gone by it would have been an officer initiative supported by members. The consequence of this is that an emphasis on achieving minimum standards of connectivity in the not spots and grot spots will only be achieved at the expense of high speed connectivity in the market towns and surrounding areas in the short term. The necessary procurement process, which I quite understand, creates a two year lag in implementation. In addition, the posturing of the telecoms providers serves only to make the water increasingly murky.

    There are some hard lesson’s learned in the field of local authority led broadband projects; Click Sandwell, Highlands and Islands and I gather that North Yorkshire is about to join their ranks. My view, for what it is worth, is that local authorities should stick to identifying outcomes and stimulating the market place and serving as a demanding anchor client. But that’s just me and I don’t have any political glory to gain nor a particular political agenda to promote.

    So where does Shropcamp come into this? I think that it is the ideal place for people with a good understanding of the potential outcomes of technology investment to make their voice heard. It’s a great platform for sharing understanding and it’s a route for taking that understanding into communities of place, practise and interest. My call would be to make Shropcamp a Rural Camp and give it a very loud voice indeed.

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