The additional security issues faced by the Police service in 2012 were among the most discussed topics at the APComm conference we took part in November 2011. Commenting on the estimated intelligence increase of 400% during the 2012 Olympics, one Head of Police Intelligence said they were already overwhelmed by the amount of data available online.
So are you swimming, treading water or drowning in a sea of data? Police forces aren't the only ones facing the informational flood. In a recent IBM study of 1,700 Chief Marketing Officers worldwide, 71% stated that top of their concerns was the data explosion... and they were unprepared for it.
The 2012 Olympics are expected to be a full-fledged social media event the likes of which the world has never seen before. During the Women’s World Cup finals in 2011 7,196 tweets were issued every second. It is easy to imagine the Olympics social media wave being at least a few hundred times bigger.
In 2012, there will be 8,000 torchbearers carrying the Flame through more than 1,000 cities, towns and villages in the UK. The Olympic Torch Relay route has been planned so that the Flame will come within ten miles of 95% of people in the UK. The venues for evening celebrations and the communities on the route have also been confirmed. The social media buzz around these events will be significant.
But the Flame’s journey might not be trouble-free. In 2008 protesters attempted repeatedly to stop the Olympic Flame. In London, a "ring of steel" was formed around the Flame to protect it, but one protester still managed to grab hold of the torch.
With most police forces in England and Wales now using social media, they will need to be ready to monitor and answer promptly to any issue signalled on social media around the Flames’ journey. In light of the role played by social networks in this summer’s riots, the need for monitoring and managing online intelligence related to the Olympics is outstanding.
Whilst social media brings many opportunities, if an organisation stumbles, the whole world will see it. Any issues or security breaches with the Olympics will bring high profile media attention. The police force’s reputation, intelligence gathering, operational management, public information and partnership working will all be tested.
So are you prepared to monitor and manage your social media channels? Where do you start? The essence of Social Mediation is to bring order to the complexity and chaos of social media, to get the right information to the right person within the organisation and to enable engagement, informed decision- making and accurate intelligence gathering. We are always happy to share experiences, so don't hesitate to get in touch.
Liz Archer, @CCHQPolice