Summer 2010 will see the launch of a new social web platform into the marketplace: Citizenscape. The initial aim is to enable public sector organisations to use the social web to effectively listen to their community.
“Whether councils like it or not, their publics are already interacting with each other using a wide range of social media tools. Now is the time for local government to start using social media as an integral part of the communications mix”
Simon Wakeman, Head of Communications, Medway Council
Citizenscape is designed to be a modular, fluid solution; adding or removing content takes seconds to achieve and you can also send your content out into the wider web. It’s the importance of this last point that really cannot be stressed enough, and forms an essential tenet of Citizenscape – you must be able to liberate your content, to better engage with the social web, and eliminate the need for web users to visit your site.
But what has this got to do with webcasting?
The introduction of high-speed internet connections has had a massive impact on the type of content available online, not least of which is the exponential increase in the use of video. Even the most casual web user will be aware of the impact that video has had on the internet, and one of the most important recent developments is the ability to quickly and easily share content. No trend spreads as quickly as it does online, and the ability to share video has become not only widely accepted, but widely expected by web users, over an incredibly short space of time. With these points in mind, we have been working hard on the next incarnation of our webcasting service, to be rolled out this summer. Dubbed Connect, clients and users will automatically have access to improved video players, with better quality video and enhanced design, but also – crucially – the ability to share formal content for the first time.
Current users will automatically be upgraded to the following:
- New Rich-Content Video player, including video sharing functionality
- ‘Embeddable’ video player, allowing clients and users to display webcast content on other sites, including their own websites, blogs, and social networking pages.
In addition to the above, all existing microsites will be upgraded to ‘Citizenscape ready’ platforms. They will on first glance be very similar to existing sites; all of the current functionality will be retained, and look and feel will be improved. While they will not look significantly different, however, the real changes are under the skin. Existing functionality converted to widget technology includes:
- Webcasting widget (Embed Player & Listings) – A widget specifically showing the webcasting as Embed player or as a list showing all current and past webcasts.
- Microsite widget – Reproduces content from current Microsites into CitizenScape including: Welcome text, FAQ Questions & Answers.
- Instant Update Widget via Twitter – Allows admin to use Twitter to update the CitizenScape site with a short instant message by pc or mobile using Twitter.
Clients will have the option of upgrading these new platforms to include new social media functionality; at a cost, sure – but at a fraction of the normal cost of implementing the solution from scratch.
Upgrading, first and foremost, ‘turns on’ the previously static widgets, so all existing static widgets become travelling (i.e. can be embedded on other websites), and clients gain full admin control of the page, including setting up new pages. I won’t list the other features verbatim, but they include:
- Calls to action. Each element that makes up the current microsite will be able to include a call to action, allowing clients to bridge the gap between informal browsing and formal democratic action, for the first time – giving the viewer the opportunity to take direct action for the first time.
- Tag Cloud. Nothing new, right? Actually the tag cloud at the heart of Citizenscape aggregates all the sources of tagged data from across the site, whether it be from blogs, webcasts, tweets – you name it.
- Travelling content. It will now be possible for clients to post their webcast content elsewhere on the web, and have them auto-update when new content becomes available. Webcast listings, for example, could be posted on the client homepage, or their page on a social networking site, making it much easier and more cost-effective to attract viewers to webcasts.
- Taxonomy and administration. Clients will be able to easily administer their own webcasting information much more freely and quickly than ever before. The upgrade also grants access to the Central Taxonomy Server – making searching for tagged content simple, even if differing keywords are used.
- Interactive Video Player. The player will introduce even more functionality for users, allowing them to chat and interact with each other live while watching the webcast, and a host of other features.
So, all in all – a busy and exciting summer ahead. Watch this space for roll-out news.