That is the question. There is a lot of consternation about the use of Twitter by people in meetings particularly when they are internal meetings. We are now seeing an acceptance of the use of Twitter to share details of the proceedings that happen in public meetings. We are well used to reading updates from council and police authority meetings.
But why shouldn’t people be allowed to tweet the details of internal meetings? If they are not compromising business or their work what harm does it do?
For the public sector organisations there is a requirement to ensure people understand the details of what they do and how they are working to make life better for the local communities they serve. The decision that the organisation makes are directly affecting those people’s lives so surely they should be able to understand the process of decision-making?
There are huge benefits to be able to tweet details of how information is being analysed and the outcomes being considered. In policing there are weekly performance meetings where details of the latest issues could be tweeted, there are chief officer meetings where discussions about policies and procedures are had that could be shared, and there are financial considerations about how to spend public money that could be published. Providing people with some insight into these discussions could be a way to start a conversation about what matters to communities and how the impact on people is being considered by the organisation particularly at a time of tight budgets and financial constraints.
Don’t misunderstand me – I know there are lots of occasions where there may be sensitive information discussed either operationally or commercially that should not be shared. But we already have freedom of information legislation that means the minutes of meetings need to be made public so why is tweeting such a concerning concept for some people.
Perhaps it is the lack of control that Twitter provides against the traditional minutes that are checked, reviewed and circulated some time after the meeting. Tweets on the other hand will be instant and will not be reviewed and checked before being submitted. Yes there are some risks. However, just because it may feel uncomfortable or may require some clear ground rules to be in place does not mean that it shouldn’t happen.
In the six months since we undertook GMP 24 it is clear that the appetite for access to data and information from public sector organisations has only grown. When we provided details of all the calls received during 24 hours it may have felt uncomfortable and it needed ground rules but it didn’t stop it happening.
The time may now be right to push the boundaries and start to bring the public into the corridors of power and the boardrooms where decisions about their services are being made.