One year ago on the 17th of January 2011, our partnership with Tayside and their social media pilot was featured on STV news.
We’ve been noticeably quiet since the pilot finished in April so we wanted to give our followers an update!
When we started in 2009 MyPolice was a foreign concept and social media was an alien phrase in the majority of the police world. Lauren spent one year travelling the country and meeting most of the fifty two forces to really understand what engaging with communities online meant for them. This was when we realised we had something pretty massive to contribute to this space but perhaps the police forces weren’t quite ready for it yet. However, we battled on and spent a long time talking about the product and the service delivery round about it – most importantly how does a tool like MyPolice add value to a police force’s communication toolkit?
What we have been doing;
Twos year on, the landscape of police on the web has totally transformed. We have a new government, a single police force planned for Scotland and the rise of riots. We have new reasons why MyPolice is important and we have new constraints and structures to work within.
Firstly, despite the pilot officially finishing in April the pilot continued into the summer, and we kept a close eye on our analytics and feedback. We worked closely with Tayside to respond quickly to any errors in the software, understand how the site was being used and take note of pressure points with the service, making amendments as we went. We were proud to be credited by the force with being incredibly responsive and a great team to work with, we pride ourselves with good customer service.
Feedback from the officers who used the platform was beyond our highest expectations. None of the officers had used any social media channel before and at the end of the pilot . Community officers talked openly and honestly about their experiences and told us they felt much more confident and closer to their community. The most important thing for them was the fact there was always someone from MyPolice at the other end of a phone.
Service is a key word in our learnings. We learned fast that MyPolice isn’t all about the product, mypolice.org. In fact, what we are delivering is a service, and we’ve been hard at work developing our blueprint based on what we learned by working with Tayside. We are pretty excited about this learning because service is what we do best, it’s all been taken on board for future developments.
We have had no funding for marketing or PR and we still get stories today. Especially within Tayside, and for the minimum marketing we did (mostly on foot in rural locations) you can still see our branding in place and converting into website hits and content.
This was a huge learning: marketing and user retention. How can we spread MyPolice across the country to get uptake and make sure people come back to the site? We’ve been working hard on features online that extend into the offline world to make sure we achieve this. We’ll be discussing these over the coming months.
Which leads us to great news. We’re in development of version 2. The interface is easier to use and more intuitive both in terms of navigating the site and leaving feedback to the relevant officer, police station or at street level as well as more generally the force.
We read a great tweet from leancamp via @amandagore.
“If you’re not embarrassed of your first version, you aren’t getting things out quick enough”
We want to move faster now and believe us, MyPolice HQ could have stayed indoors developing a product for 5 years to make it everything we could imagine but we had to consider what the product must do, it’s core features, and how people responded to our question ‘Tell us your story’. This was our prototype phase.
We’ve been working on how to break this loaded question down to help users and police understand the nature of feedback and an experience within a community/crime context.
Evaluating the prototype
Tayside acknowledged they had given us a difficult job by choosing rural areas to pilot in. We spent time on the ground marketing and talking face to face with the public and local communities and have integrated this approach into our plan on how to mobilise communities.
We ran a survey after the pilot and this is what we discovered:
- Email is most effective way of delivering local information on the police and updates from MyPolice. Never underestimate the power of the newsletter in someone’s inbox.
- Most users would prefer to find out how police are performing and responding to feedback through either ; a) A personalised email b) Checking on their website or MyPolice
We were discouraged to use Facebook as a medium, and twitter (backed up through our face to face feedback in the pilot zone) was relatively underused/not considered to be a good channel to deliver police feedback on. Although we didn’t get a large demographic of under 24s responding to our survey but have been making headway with organisations to run some focus groups on our concepts for developing a mobile MyPolice app and Facebook application.
We found out that:
- People viewed improving access and personalisation about news/crime in your local area was a priority and in response to this, we are working on some features to deliver personalised information to users that MyPolice generates, local to them.
- Other priorities included;
- Improvement on their understanding and knowledge of the people the police serve locally
- Improvement on how they keep you updated on developments and outcomes of crimes you report
- Improvement on their presence and become more human in the information they present
- Improvement on their feedback loops and two way communication
- Our top wants from our users which we have designed into the new version are;
- See if action has been taken by the police
- You can submit an issue in your community
- Local community news on crime and justice
We know what could be better with the website now, and we know what kind of service we want to offer. Thank you again to everyone who responded to our feedback surveys and sent in their thoughts on the product/attended a feedback session.
Overall our biggest lesson was about implementation/timing. We need data to make the service work the best it can be for the user. We need to launch the product with sessions on how to use it with the police. We need to mobilise a community to know it exists and find a way in which they can use it. We need to work closely with the communication department. All this takes time. However, we have learned how to make this process shorter and more efficient and have now streamlined our rollouts within forces to be faster, more efficient and provide a supportive service for the police.
As a bottom line, the intention right from the start, and the mission, is to close the feedback loop between the public and the police. We have achieved this and a result featured in the BBC , a personal letter from the Chief Constable of Tayside and a personal letter from Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond – this was more than we could have expected from our first pilot.
Whilst maintaining our independence as a platform, we want to work with the police to support them when receiving feedback, how best to respond, and then importantly, how to make service improvements/take necessary actions to change a situation. We didn’t ever want to form an ‘anarchy’ site where people can feedback and leave comment but the police are not geared up to respond. We believe in working with both the public and the police.
So that is where we stand. In the coming months we will be refining the product, testing it with the public and rolling it out to forces across the country.
We’re going to be looking for someone to join the MyPolice team shortly to manage the project’s implementation, and engage with interested parties. We are working on the job description to make sure we get exactly the person we’re looking for, but if you are interested, you can get in touch with us with the contact details below.
We will be bringing more updates as 2012 develops but do get in touch with us on hello (at ) mypolice ( dot ) org if you have any thoughts on collaboration or working with us.