I was honoured to be a speaker at AMEC’s 5th European Summit on Measurement where I presented to an international audience on Horizon Scanning and Social Analytics.  I talked about Defra’s use of Horizon Scanning in the short to medium term, including social analytics which plays a vital part through identifying topics building in social networks, alerting colleagues so we can be more prepared and using products like our Forward Look as an evaluation tool to help predict likely audience perceptions in future months.  We’ve been lucky to work with a great team at Gorkana, who provide the social analytics system and who have worked hard to tailor it to Defra’s diverse needs since we introduced it last July.

Delegates were surprised at the vast range and volume of sources that inform Horizon Scanning, the filtration process that involves cross Government co-ordination including No.10 and the easy digest dashboards that we produce to present the intel simply.  Simplification of management information featured heavily throughout the summit and filtering a broad range of issues down to manageable chunks was echoed as a challenge for many organisations.

My speech generated interest from a range of international companies who provide social analytics for their respective governments.   There was also enormous interest from private companies like Volvo, Retriever and Nissan and we came away with lots of contacts keen to see how we do Horizon Scanning in Defra.

The international AMEC Awards also took place at the Summit where 35 countries were represented and the Gorkana/Defra team won Gold in the category ‘Best use of communication management: public sector’ for ‘Social Media Horizon Scanning’.  An international panel of Judges work to a strict process where Gold, Silver and Bronze entries are chosen based on a series of baseline points.

This is the first time that UK Government was represented at the summit or these awards and the Executive Director for Government Communications, Alex Aiken, was one of the first to congratulate the team.

Mark Tollitt, Head of Planning and Performance, said: “We were thrilled to be recognised as leading the way in Horizon Scanning and Social Analytics at the Association of Evaluation and Measurement of Communications European awards.  Defra is gaining widespread recognition for its role in effective short term horizon scanning, comms planning, management information and ultimately acting as an early warning system for social media and related activity.”

Elayne Phillips, Head of Horizon Scanning and Planning, said: “We were up against the United States Department of Health, NHS Blood and Transplant, Malasian Government and United Arab Emerites Government, to name just a few and to win in this category amidst such stiff competition is quite an achievement and an excellent endorsement of a broad team effort within Defra comms and Gorkana.  But we won’t rest on our laurels and will look to develop, refine and improve our products over the next year. ”