Friday, 1 January 2016

Essex Police Live Digital Community

In this post, you'll learn about the five areas and the interconnectivity between them.

I'll provide a short answer and where to look more in depth.

This post is long at 3,822 words. It may take you half an hour to read it - but that's fine as it's really here in public to aid my thinking about the topic.

I will cut it up into bite sized chunks and repost where I can. Let's be fair - if anyone looks at an area with a few million people in it - you would expect it to be book length.

To make a start..

All areas whether Essex, Police, Live, Digital or Community are created equal.

In this model, we adopt the network approach. Usually, with the industrial model, organisations create a hub as the centre with spokes radiating outwards.

As a teacher in a school, this is what I experienced, a few line managers then a Head Teacher and a board of governors.

All transactions relay through the hub, which acts as a gate keeper. I would say, there's an inverse relationship between control and trust. In other words, think of it as a seesaw - if you trust someone explicitly, there is no need to control them (to learn more read Jarvis, 2009 p82).

I will explore hub/spoke versus network later in this post with a more complex example based on one person. As with all these ideas, I lay them out for all to understand - I've taught for far too long to presume people know something and therefore gloss over it - no one wins with that method.

Another is the teacher's prayer, Decide what you can change, Decide what you cannot change and Know the difference between the two

The fives areas are..

Essex is bordered by Herts, Cambs, Suffolk,
Greater London, Kent, the River Thames and the North Sea
Essex - This is quite an easy one to define and not that much can be changed. Essex is a County in the UK, home to 1.7 million people.

There is a concise seven paragraphs at the base of this post (written by Essex Police UK).

In this example, I would talk about Essex as the earth beneath our feet, the landscapes we see on a clear day and how we think about travelling from one place to the next.

It's quite a flat place, and that means as there are no mountains, people can live almost anywhere - but in practice they do not (the section on Community deals with People).

If the slide on the right were a chess board problem, then the pattern of settlement in the county is diverse (wiki).

Only thing for sure, no matter how much we think or redesign - there's water on the right (and far too much mud). I would suggest everyone spends half an hour looking at Essex through the eyes of Google Earth - there are some incredible sights to see, many now in 3D.

Police - We can split this area in two parts: Private Policing and Public Policing. With an extension, in this case, being the territorial Essex Police.

Private Policing - By Private, I would define that as hidden from view, or something that happens, but for good reason the public do not, or cannot get to know about it. Or when it's explained, it's done so in very general terms to protect those involved (or legal reasons).

And for that reason alone, when we see police officers tweeting, I firmly believe 90% of what they see cannot be shared to the public. After all, we operate a system of innocent until proven guilty.

If you want to read about what the UK Police do, like roles responsibilities, go visit: College of Policing Code of Ethics or even the Law Enforcement in the UK is a good read (wiki).

This can be a complex area, I particularly like, Police officers are granted certain powers .. their primary duties are the protection of life and property, preservation of the peace, and prevention and detection of criminal offences.

It's worth reading the Police Oath for England and Wales too. To have a working knowledge and awareness will pay you back later - especially when you hear of an officer acting in a certain way - an example may be Concern for Welfare. If you still want more, have a read of History of Law Enforcement in the UK.

So what are the Powers of the Police? To paraphrase, constables can do certain things that normal members of the public cannot do, including the power to: detain people in connection with an offence, stop and search people/vehicles in connection with offences (actual or suspected), the power to arrest people without warrant for minor offences and the power to direct the behaviour of persons and vehicles on highways and in other public places (ref).

On a local level, be aware of the work of Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex. In particular the Police and Crime Plan (it's 45 pages and essential reading). But at 13,000 words, it will take you an hour to get through.

I didn't even know about it until I went to hear Nick speak on 22 Oct 15 at ARU, as part of the Ideas Festival. What Nick did in person in that hour was just excellent.

I gathered more insights into Essex Policing than I ever d had before. For example, there 9 missing persons a day, 18 burglaries a day and 85 Domestic Violence incidents a day in Essex. The County is getting older at a high rate, implying far more cases of elder abuse and dementia.

The phrase I have written down and circled in red on my notepad that Nick said is for everyone to have the ability to exploit technology. No surprise, more on that later.

Public Policing - How do we even know the police are there at all? For most people, they would have seen a Police Station or a local Police House. They would heard the siren of a Car or seen an Officer on the beat.

The public may have read a Newspaper report or felt a surge of adrenalin should they have witnessed an incident as it happened.

I worked in a shop in the 1980s, the local officer came in every week for a cup of tea and a chat. He would place his helmet on the desk - it made you feel special. It gave confidence and a sense of Community. He also had a moustache - no idea why that's relevant, but a sign of credibility I guess.

As a child, I remember visiting Chelmsford Headquarters one summer's afternoon for a Open Day - you were allowed to sit in a Police Car and try on handcuffs. Back in the day, the Essex Show at Great Leighs was the chance to meet local Police and Fire officers and if you were lucky they would turn on the siren.

Of course the police were portrayed in the media and on TV. Dixon of Dock Green 1955 to 1976, Z-Cars 1962/1978, The Sweeney 1975/1978 and of course The Bill 1984/2010. Heartbeat was a favourite of mine, for it's rural simplicity (1992/2010) or the legend that was Inspector Morse 1987/2000 (ref A-Z).

We also learned from the reality show with heavy dramatic narration like: Police Camera Action 1994/2010 or Police Interceptors 2008 to the present.

And then every so often, we have the BBC dipping in to produce something like The Met: Policing London (June 15). Programs like this take a very long time to produce, and a huge resource - look at how the BBC announced the series in Oct 2013, yet it did not air until 20 months later.

[ as an Independent producer, legacy media can work on an Industrial scale. I've heard documentaries taking 3-6 months - quite incredible (and frustrating) when I could have produced and edited the same program in a few days. To learn more, read about social versus industrial media ]

From the beginning in the 1800s - None of us were around in the 1800s when it all began. In particular, Home Secretary  Robert Peel and the Metropolitan Police Act in 1829 and then the term Peelers or Bobbies (ref).

Roll forward ten years and we get the County Police Act 1839 and the formation of Essex Police in 1840. In fact, the Act was adopted 25 November 1839, chief constable appointed 11 February 1840 (ref).

For context, we need to start thinking about time as something that that's very big and very long - not something that's happened in the last 5 minutes since we last checked twitter.

UK Police Forces were formed in 1840 - 175 years ago. As for name changes, Essex Constabulary in 1840, Essex and Southend-on-Sea Joint Constabulary in 1969 with the name Essex Police in 1974. As a line of trivia and coincidence or not - Police Radio first appeared within the British Police in 1969 (ref).

And that was it, until something started to change - there was shift from analogue to digital, beautifully illustrated by the google books Ngram viewer with 1953 being the year digital took control.

Returning to the Police and Crime Plan 2015, there is this line, The role of the PCC in 2011 was to..  reconnect the public with policing (page 6).

Even if that's vaguely true - what factors made that happen and why? People themselves, the Police or how technology has changed culture - where the Internet has changed everything?

Live - You may have noticed epLdc where L is the only capital letter. There is a huge reason for this.

First of all, read the word live two ways,

  • as in The FA Cup Final will be broadcast Live on TV or Do NOT touch that red wire, it is Live! .. In other words live means happening right now in realtime.  
  • as in Where do you live? ..  I live in Essex. 
  • there is also a third meaning where live defines as day to day survival, like I really want to live in a village, it's so much quieter there. This is a more profound idea, bordering on life itself, What's it like to live in London? or I cannot, just cannot live in London, it suffocates me. Meaning live as in alive (in life): alert, active, lively 

The word Live has been widely used like: Windows Live, YouTube Live, Xbox Live, BBC 5 Live and Live from the Apollo - you name it, seems to have Live in the title.

If there was one aim of this site - it would be to answer the question, What's Happening Right Now? (which is exactly the same as you see on every twitter compose window).

One excellent example, how we can hear a police car siren and virtually in realtime we can see a tweet from PC Alan Conran - and get a video inside of that police car. That is nothing short of remarkable - and nothing short of Magic (tweet and youtube video).

But at this stage, it's the exception not the rule. Although there are over a 100 twitter accounts, very few use video and none have used live video. To look for live video with uk police, you need to visit my other blog: police for examples as early as 2011).

An emerging pattern - By now we can start to see a theme, how Essex the place, how the Police an organisation can start to feed into the Live idea. And in doing so, engage with the public they serve.

And how we do that is an easy and free as possible. After all, it's much easier than ever before. Anyone can do this..

Digital - In 2016, it's going to be easier than ever before to read from and write to the Internet. Smartphones are cheaper than ever before, and free wifi is just about everywhere.

Digital is where the magic happens. How one line of text, a photo or short video can be broadcast everywhere in the County (if not the planet) in realtime. This is made possible by the Smartphone, in my view 95% computer, 5% phone (from 2012, with early models from 2007).

Anything designed on the web should mirror real life - afterall, a mobile phone, tablet or a laptop is just looking to be a tool to make us live out lives a little better.

Take a look at this Tech Inventions Timeline I've produced.

It's only when you slow down and think about how in the same year of 1839, the County Police Act and commercial Photography was introduced. Quite fascinating.

My first memories of browsing the internet was in 1994 - that was the year before Internet Explorer was invented.

Although mobile phone text messages went commercial in 1992, it was not until 2002 to send Multimedia Messages.

Google was founded Sept 1998. The first iPod 2001 and from 2004, there was a rapid pace of change: gmail, facebook, youtube, google apps, twitter, amazon kindle and bbc iplayer. The first iphone 2007 and ipad 2010.

In Jan 2010, the BBC made a four part series called The Virtual Revolution charting the last 20 years of change since the invention of the Web.

Small changes have a way of creeping up on us - in many ways going unnoticed. Certainly in the last 10-12 years. As humans, we need to understand the passage of time.

Technology has been around for 1,000s of years. One local Essex example is the set of viaducts that run through Chelmsford. They were built in 1842, just a few years after Essex Police was founded. The Great Eastern Mainline runs London Liverpool Street to Norwich, Norfolk, for 133 miles.

In it's day, I would say that was groundbreaking. Compare that to the local roads: A12 - 1922, M25 - 1986, Dartford Tunnel - 1963, 1980 and the river crossing 1991.

The idea here, how technology was very big, easily seen and often very noisy. I hear and listen to so many people complaining about technology and certainly how they dislike it. Yes all these people watch TV, drive a car, use a microwave oven and even an electric toothbrush - all examples of modern tech.

At this point, there are myths and rumours and scaremongering - 2016 should finally be a year when we just get on with it, and stop making excuses that we are using the web.

After all, those digital natives or millennials (born around the year 2000) really have no idea what the fuss is about - they have known no other way.

For 156 years the Police Service went about it's business. Face to face meetings, messages on notice boards and using the old fashioned telephone. And then something quite profound happened.

On 4 Aug 1996, the website domain was created. That was around the same time was created too (on 1 Aug 1996).

By the way, was created on 22 Aug 2003, but it didn't happen all at once. The twitter account essexpoliceuk opened 4 May 2010, with Essex Police creating a page at facebook 12 Jan 2012. It started posting from April 2012 with a post about name a puppy.

This has been a long and complicated section and all leading up to this one slide: Internet Users per 100 habitants in the Developed World.

In the UK, there are 57 million Internet users which is 89.84% of the population(I also read that as six million have not logged on and maybe getting left behind, Sky/ONS).

From the slide, we see 11% in 1997, with 51% in 2005. Showing there has been more people logged on, than logged off for a clear 10 years.

What's abundantly clear, how the mobile phone has also tipped the scales to the majority. In every Google design and product making decision in the last few years, mobile has featured very heavily.

It doesn't stop there, The Internet of Things or Ubiquitous Computing is one of the next steps. Technologies like android auto or the self driving car. The Nest Thermostat and Nest Webcam or Smoke Alarm for your home are just extensions. I'm particularly excited about Project Loonproject ara and liftware the anti tremor spoon.

In conclusion, to the section on Digital - it's now a way of life. It's about both Culture and it's about Technology. It's About thinking about real life and seeing how some technology, often with software that's quite free can do something for you faster.

If you're curious and want to get started, visit, with one login you get access to over a 100 free services. Any Police force (or home user) can and should use them. Just today I've used: Chrome, YouTube, Gmail, Search, Maps, Drive, Photos, Blogger and Calendar.

I've learned lots from Google, from their Ten things we know to be true page. the four I have highlighted are:

  • Focus on the user and all else will follow 
  • Fast is better than slow
  • You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer
  • You can be serious without a suit.

Which is ideal as Community is net. And that means People..

Community - Looking a few definitions we see a common theme:

  • a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common 
  • a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals
  • a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.

There are a some associations with the word like Community: Centre, Action, Group, Care, Order, Service, Safety, College or the emotive, Community Spirit - or as in a Sense of Community (fascinating article to read).

In Essex UK, there are about 1.7 million people, 581,600 households and around 275 places.

Let's explore the 581,600 households in a practical face to face way. And bear with me here. What if it took one just minute to either knock on the door and say Hello or to post a letter - how long would that take? One person could..

  • visit 60 households in 60 minutes, the whole task would be done in 9,693 hours (that's 258 weeks working 37.5 hours a week, about 5 years).
  • work 10 hours a day, seven days a week, they would get the task done in 969 days (that's 2 years, 7 months and 26 days).
I accept that's pretty ridiculous, so let's put a team on the job. 
  • to get the task done in a 5 day week (at 37.5hrs), it would take 258 people
  • to get the task done in one 10 hour day, that would require 969 people 

To get a message out fast, it's a really difficult task. That's why in year's gone by we've seen appeals to the local Newspapers, Radio and Tv Channels and flyers posted on local notice boards.

We may try another way and reach communities based not only on location but by type: Sports Clubs, Community Centres, Churches or Parish Councils. We would also rely on word of mouth - something that's been working pretty well for thousands of years (this can work very well for one person or group, but awful for another - people sharing is based on many unreliable factors).

Having established Community is about people and these people live (or are found) somewhere in Essex - how can we get a realtime feeling of how there are doing, or feeling - and more importantly if they are safe, secure and happy?

If people had an emergency they tell each other or tell an Emergency Service. The first Red K1 public telephone box was introduced in 1920, with the K6 in 1935 and the K8 1970 onwards (ref).

By that time in the 1970s many people had a telephone in their house. And that was that for 23 years until email in 1993 (ref). Of course to get that email message, it was all dial up and modems.

Going back to the focus of this section - What is the starting point for any Community? Where do we go first? Is it to simply look out the window? Or find a local Map or have a purpose?

One of the most memorable events I have, the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 1977 - the road was closed, there were street parties everywhere and everyone was smiling. Whatever happened to that sense and commitment to Community?

At this stage, I have no real answer - but I'm determined to find one. And is it fair that any one person should be a part of more than one Community?

To formulate a great answer, we need to look face to face and also online. There are clues in many places - we just have to find them.

With 91% of the people Searching Google in the UK - we have more instantly available information than we ever have done. If you've been on a commuter train or walked down an Essex street you will see smartphones everywhere.

For the street party of 2016 and beyond is not fought out in public, it's in our pocket and has wifi.

Putting it all together - This section will be combine all that's been discussed: Essex, Police, Live, Digital and Community.

Let's start with the News. When I grew up in Chelmsford, there was the Essex Chronicle, Braintree and Witham Times, The Chelmsford Weekly News and The Yellow Advertiser. TV, we had BBC Look East and ITV About Anglia. There were some local Radio Stations too - I'm sure Essex Radio was one of them.

from this wiki page
Before the Internet, everything was predictable and ran like clockwork. News was daily at set times like breakfast TV or 6 and 10pm. News was often by word of mouth.

Or breaking news was listening while driving in the car. Or lucky enough, to be allowed a radio in the office.

The internet has changed everything. There are websites dedicated to the decline of the newspaper.

I will look at News in Essex in depth in a separate post.

Produced in full from +Essex Police Google+ About page:
Essex Police operates across an area of 1,405 square miles which borders the counties of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Kent and four London boroughs. 
The county is home to five large urban towns and small rural villages linked by a number of key roads, including the M25, M11, A12, A127 and A13. Essex also has one of the largest coastlines in the UK. 
There are two airports – Southend and Stansted – as well as numerous airfields, and the county is home to an extensive rail network with 80 stations, including seven on the London Underground network. 
Essex also has two major ports – Harwich International Port and the Port of Tilbury.
The Dartford River Crossing is used by more than 51 million vehicles a year, with a daily average of 140,405. 
The county of Essex has an estimated population of 1.72 million, making it the fifth most populous county in England. 
Southend and Harlow districts have the highest population density per square kilometre within Essex, whereas Uttlesford and Maldon districts have the lowest.



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