This post is written by Tanya Loh, Product Marketing Manager at Yammer.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join our friends to the north for a full day of learning at the Open Gov West (OGW) British Columbia (BC) Conference 2010. Held at the University of Victoria, in Victoria, BC, this sold-out event brought together over 200 social media thought-leaders and public servants to discuss the ongoing opportunities associated with open government issues, increased transparency initiatives, and new technologies in furthering community engagement across Canada. Yammer was pleased to help sponsor the event, which was broadcasted live to 450+ online viewers across the continent.
With inspirational keynotes by Vancouver Councilor Andrea Reimer and Chris Rasmussen of the US Intelligence Community, the conference featured engaging panel discussions on topics that ranged from how to stimulate and sustain effective, open dialogs with communities to the future of open citizen participation.
During a particularly animated panel about Canada’s controversial Freedom of Information (FOI) policy, recent BC Legislative Assembly member, Blair Lekstrom, information management
expert, David Flaherty, journalist, Sean Holman, and public policy entrepreneur, David Eaves, discussed the difference between open data versus open information and debated what should remain private as well as why more isn’t released.
I was inspired by this motivated group of civic leaders, eager to find ways to circumvent complacency and better engage their constituents – whether towards positive action or during moments of crisis. With its accessibility, availability, relevance, and speed of communications, social media stood out as the most powerful means of achieving these goals, but only if managed carefully to ensure quality interaction that is actionable and constructive.
As I learned more about the government sector’s unique security considerations, coordination needs, and communication challenges with increasingly vocal and dispersed employees and citizens, I was excited to deepen my understanding of how Yammer can help out. As a social network that’s private and secure for companies and organizations, Yammer enables faster, real-time, and mobile communication critical to private and public entities worldwide. That Yammer has become a trusted communication solution during disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup, in which the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife Services used Yammer to coordinate efforts in the field, is a testament to its ability to help people work better and communicate more effectively. Yammer’s ability to boost civic engagement and foster meaningful dialog are some of the reasons why the Open Gov West Yammer Community was established for the conversations to continue.
I’m looking forward to learning more about the government sector – specifically about crisis communications, community engagement, and the role of enterprise social networking in facilitating both. Next month, I’m off to the Urban America Securities Initiative Shared Strategies for Homeland Security conference in Denver to learn from America’s foremost security experts, law enforcement leadership, and medical and emergency response personnel, while broadening awareness about Yammer. Exciting times!