There can be no doubt that the internet has been a lifesaver during this last year. Utilising modern social media, the ability to communicate instantly with people from all over the world is a tremendous asset that we would never have thought possible 20 years ago. Of course, the use of public facing social media can be fraught with difficulties and needs to be exercised with great care to avoid potentially embarrassing or defamatory situations.
It has, however, always been possible to create private discussion groups which enable discussions amongst friends and peers to be held without attracting the wrong sort of attention and way back in 2001 I worked with the Freight Transport Association (now LogisticsUK) in developing the Public Authority Transport Network (PATN), a private forum for public sector members to share information, ideas and even ask for help. The private nature of the forum membership, from authorities and organisations who were effectively not in competition with each other, led this to be a tremendous success and the forum, at its height, enjoyed input from almost 1000 individuals.