Snow – when information becomes important for people

Damion Nickerson
Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

So, I write my blogs about people and how information sharing is part of their lives. When it snows, I realise that information becomes a premium commodity, we all want information about when its likely to snow, how much snow can we expect, what's going to be working e.g. roads, trains, and schools; we become obsessed with information.

This morning I sat listening to the local radio and scouring school websites to see if my daughter and son would be going to school. I could see that they were less keen to attend a temple of learning, and more keen to attend local hill for black bag sledging races. I also had a flurry of texts and social media expressing concern over flights, trains, meetings cancelled, meetings going ahead etc.

I think the thing I've noticed is that during snowy times there are many public and private services that need to communicate with people; we need to know which roads to avoid or whether to make the school run, but these are just minor things when you consider that for some people the white covering brings with it a real fear for people. They might not get their meals, their shopping may not come, the visit from a carer or nurse may be more difficult, or they won't see another human being. Information however insignificant, needs to be available and to be shared.

The information that I'm talking about isn't one way – emergency services need better information sharing during inclement weather to better predict and respond to situations, they also need to be reactive and intelligent. Local council services can get put under enormous pressure and are not just trying to be pre-emptive during snow e.g. gritters ensuring that services still run but that they keep open and reactive communication lines open. I see a large responsibility falling on health and social care services; they support people, and if you can't get to people, you can't help people. The communication and the information they need to share becomes paramount and ultimately falls on the front line practitioners. I can guarantee that they will be not thinking about sledging and snowmen but how they can ensure that people are kept informed, safe and ensure that those most vulnerable are supported. Only by keeping the information in all its forms up to date, relevant and keeping communication lines open, are they able to deliver services for people - even if that information is sometimes as changeable as the weather.

Snow and information go hand in hand. We all need to consider what we can do to share information for and within our communities, and services need to consider what they need to share with the individuals and their citizens to ensure that these periods are as least perplexing for some people as possible.

As for me, I have helped clear my neighbours path, readied myself for the onslaught of kids wanting to black bag sledge, and have made a hearty stew because from the forecast (can you believe that information?) it looks like we have a few more days like this.

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