A hangout is a video chat room, integrated into Google+. Isn't that a dead platform you might ask? I used to think that too, but I wrote about why I changed my mind, here.
Back in February 2013 I ran the first LocalGov Digital hangout, an evening event for those with an interest in local government and digital; Kate Sahota ran the next one in March. Since then I've taken part in a few of Shane Dillion's excellent hangouts, Jerome's Turners Out Of Hours Hyperlocal and set up what we hope to be regular hangout for local government officers in Berkshire.
Now seems like a good time to make LocalGov Digital hangouts a regular event and to start with I'll be running them from 2pm to 3pm on the third Thursday of every month. Whilst the hangouts will focus on a topic, the overall aim will be to share ideas, promote collaboration and highlight local government best practice in delivering services and information digitally.
Like unconferences and camps, hangouts for the public sector tend to be held in the evening or at weekends. Sharing to improve the service one provides shouldn't be an add on to one's role, it should be part of it, so I've taken the decision to run the hangouts during the day.
I understand that some may have trouble accessing social media from their workplace, but Google+ runs from a smartphone and tablet too, so those wanting to take part could use their own device. If you're building a case to allow professional networking using social media at your organisation it'll be another reason to add to the list.
I anticipate a slow start. More than ever there seems to be a desire to share and collaborate in the public sector but many are still unsure as to how. Add to this that some still are unaware of Google+.
I'll review the progress of the LocalGov Digital hangouts in six months, or sooner in the unlikely event they become a runaway success, running them more often if this is the case.
If you have an interest in improving digital in local government I hope you can find time to join in. Not only will you be making what you do better, you'll be helping to improve what local governments across the country do.
You can sign up to the first hangout here.