SOUTH Yorkshire’s Fire Authority has become the first in Britain to pilot a new service over the web.
The pioneering technology, known as Citizenscape, has been used for the first time to link the Fire Authority to online social media systems, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. The aim is to make it easier for the public to scrutinise the way the fire service is run and funded.
The new technology allows the authority to link up to social media systems, giving it a wider audience than if it set up a service of its own.
It works by bringing together ‘conversations’ that are already online in other social webspaces, in a bid to make it easier for people to follow and keep up to date with the latest developments.
It has already been used for the first time in a meeting to discuss firefighting budgets, which was broadcast live over the internet.
So far the technology is on trial only, but it is hoped it will become permanent.
Councillor Jim Andrews, chairman of South Yorkshire Fire Authority, said: “This is a real first, not just for South Yorkshire but for the whole country. The trial will look at how as a fire authority we can use social media as a way of making the decision-making process more transparent.
“Social media is an important way to interact with people and through this trial we will be able to bring together websites such as Twitter and Facebook to inform people of our decisions, promote projects and open up discussions about what the public wants from their fire service.
“The trial will not interfere with meetings, but will open the process to more people.”
He added: “We have also found that staff within the fire service have been getting involved with the webcasts and social media platforms, which is terrific. We hope this pilot will increase participation between employees, the authority and fire service.”
Log on to www.southyorks.gov.uk to watch fire authority meetings through live webcasts and to access the Citizenscape website.